Essay Title: 

body image, self esteem, eating diss – effects of early onset of puberty?

March 24, 2016 | Author: | Posted in english literature, literature and language



Early onset of puberty and effects on body image , eating diss and self esteem in youth : A Literature Review

I . Introduction

A . Precocious Puberty has a grave psychological impact

II . Body

A . Physical Development

1 . Puberty results in acute awareness of own body

2 . Significance of self esteem and body image

3 . Linkage of physical development , eating dis and emotional control

4 . Higher consciousness of body image [banner_entry_middle]

in puberty

5 . Dietary interventions in puberty

B . Cognitive Development

1 . Early Maturation and impact on cognitive facilities

2 . Dissonance in research on cognitive development

3 . Correlation attraction during adolescence

C . Social Development

1 . Social comparison is endemic to body image

2 . Social relationship between puberty , familial influence and weight control with self esteem

3 . Mother – daughter relationship

4 . Social acceptance of behavior

D . Emotional Development

1 . Impact of puberty and gender on emotional development

2 . Differences in response boys and girls

3 . Impact of Physical activity on mental well being

III . Conclusion

A . Establishment of correlation early onset puberty and self esteem in youth


Precocious puberty has been identified as a major problem amongst girls and is denoted as emergence of signs of maturing of sexuality including its external manifestations in girls such as development of breasts hair in the underarms , varied body odor as well as menstruation . In the case of boys , it is indicated by a growth of facial hair and masculine features . Early puberty is said to occur when the signs appear before age 8 in girls and 9 and a half in a boy (Precocious Puberty , 2006 While the external manifestations of puberty are reasonably clear , it is the mental and emotional aspects which need to be studied in detail to analyze the impact of the same on body image , self esteem and eating diss . While many times these manifestations are visualized in the light of growing adolescence or a period of transformation which occurs between puberty and adulthood , an analysis would provide a deeper understanding of the sum cognitive , emotional and social perspective . It needs also take into account any causes other than puberty which may lead to loss of self esteem and result in eating diss . The literature review is thus carried out based on the above issues

Physical Development

The physical impact of early puberty results in growth of those parts of the body which is most obvious such as breasts in girls and facial hair in boys and also in some respects those that are not seen such as pubic and armpit hair . The result of physical growth is an acute awareness of ones own body , which possibly is a cause for problems related to body image or self esteem (Precocious puberty , 2006 . Since these are perceptive rather than existential issues an innate linkage with biological processes of puberty is indicated

The significance of self esteem in improving body image , eating attitudes and adolescent behavior has been identified by O ‘Dea and Abraham (2000 . In an experiment with students in the critical puberty period of 11 to 14 years , the authors discovered the trend of improvement in body satisfaction of students who had been subjected to a programme of education in enhancing self esteem (O ‘Dea . Abraham , 2004 On the other hand those who had not been subjected to interventions continued to display greater need for acceptance by society through physical proficiency and body toning , thereby underlining the significance of this facet of the study . Those female students demonstrated lesser consciousness of physical appearance had limited inclination to excessive weight loss and were not uncomfortable with an increase in their weight (O ‘Dea . Abraham , 2004

The linkage between physical development , eating dis and emotional control has also been highlighted by a study by Abraham (2003 Interventions that lead to improvement of self esteem also contribute to preventing eating diss in young women . Puberty has a role to play in this in that consciousness of ones body develops only on occurrence of puberty . Abraham goes further in recommending that on suspicion of an eating dis , physicians should investigate the psychological underpinnings arising from a fear of loss of control over the body (Abraham , 2003 . Generally in adult girls , menarche is followed by an increase in body weight . Abraham (2003 ) has thus also distinguished between pre and post menarche girls in identifying their response towards food . Thus premanarchal girls are said to resort to normal eating habits and after menarche these relate to dieting to avoid being considered over weight . The normal methods used for losing weight are to reduce consumption of food and increase exercise . On the other hand some resort to heavy binges of consumption of food as an interregnum between long periods of restricted eating . There are even some who choose to use abusive drugs as well as smoking as a means for control of body weight (Abraham , 2003 . Thus physical impacts of puberty are related to a general loss of self esteem during this critical period of adolescence

A congruent study by Sands Et Al (1999 ) indicates that during puberty there is higher consciousness of body image . This results in activities which are perceived to enhance the same to include moderation or excessive eating and exercise . The subtle variation in the male and female approach to body weight and puberty is also indicated by Sands Et Al (1999 ) thereby females preferring to be , chunkier . The significance of non educational interventions has been highlighted by the some authors in another work which has included a study of post menarchal female students in the age group of average 12 .6 years (Abraham . O ‘Dea , 2001 . Lack of need for dieting was however not a result of a clear understanding of the phenomenon and it was seen that educational interventions despite providing greater information on the subject failed to evoke a positive response in this direction (Abraham O ‘Dea , 2001

Another study over a two year period in eating dis risks in puberty indicated that the incidence of puberty frequently resulted in dietary interventions in the second year of puberty (Keel . Et Al 1997 . This aspect was confirmed with reasonable certainty in this study which has included girls and boys in the Fifth and the Sixth grades . Done over a two year period it also tends to provide authenticity and is relevant in distinguishing the impact on boys and girls (Keel . Et Al , 1997 . It has established that in boys who attain puberty , it is indicated that those who perceived a poor body image in the first year would be more susceptible to disedly eating than those who had a better perception of the same . On the other hand , girls denoted a disliness in eating habits there was some congruence . Girls indicated that those with consciousness of body mass index and development of puberty were more prone to eating diss than those in the opposite category (Keel . Et Al , 1997 . An advantage provided by this study is the ability to adopt different coping strategies for boys and girls . A review of the above sources indicates a correlation between physical development , puberty and its possible fall out

Cognitive Development

There does not appear to be a significant impact of early maturation on cognitive facilities . This has been indicated by a study by Duncan Et Al (1985 . While aspects such as physical , emotional and social factors lead to a co relationship between early puberty and impact on self image along with related factors as body mass index and so on , cognitive functions are seemingly not fully affected by the same (Duncan Et Al 1985 . The study indicated that girls who had matured early were dissatisfied with their body indicators as weight and height and 60 percent participants had reported a need for lesser body mass . On the other hand there was greater satisfaction in the early maturers amongst boys in terms of height as well as weight . The researchers have however concluded that the impact of weight may not be a result of early maturation but that of onset of puberty in general (Duncan Et Al 1985 . This also supports other research discussed in relevant paragraphs of research report

There is some dissonance in the results on the impact of puberty on cognition Thus it is seen that early maturers amongst boys indicate deviance in conduct but the same was not true of girls in the same category , thereby denoting that this is a gender specific phenomenon and hence the impact of puberty could be discounted or that the incidence of deviation is related to asymmetric effect of puberty on boys and girls (Duncan Et Al , 1985 . When assessed in terms of adjustment in school or incidence of indiscipline as well as repetition of the grade in schools the maturation timing is seen to have limited relevance

Bukowski , Et Al (2000 ) have suggested that there may be a correlation between attraction of girls to aggressive boys during the period of adolescence and in some ways boys with better school behaviour were not fully admired . The early puberty period did not indicate this trend initially , however it was seen by the researchers that this was quite prevalent in later stages as the subject population transited from elementary to middle school (Bukowski , Et Al , 2000 . In terms of peers of the same sex , again it was those who tend to stand out amongst the overall crowd , by displaying some what deviant behaviour that attracted greater attention , thus indicating that cognitive function may be attracted in puberty towards those who display a greater reflection of perceived self image rather than that which is socially acceptable (Bukowski , Et Al , 2000 . If congruent indictors are considered such as exercise , it is seen that it has limited impact on enhancing cognitive functions particularly in older adults (Fox , 1999 . Thus there may be grounds to believe that impact of puberty on cognition may be varied

Social Development

Social comparison is a key aspect in body image (Jones , 2001 . It has been observed that social comparison affects ones impression of body image particularly strongly in females rather than males as seen from idolising images of celebrities in the media as those who have skinny bodies in females and muscular ones for males . During adolescence it has been indicated that girls tend to develop a negative body image due to the impact of influence of peer comparison (Jones , 2001 . Perceived inconsistency in growth in comparison with peers is also likely to create social problems for boys as well as girls . There is an element of teasing which occurs when a child grows (Precocious puberty , 2006 This makes a child acutely aware that he or she is different than peers and may lead to adverse social reactions such as reclusive ness or on the other hand hyper activity . Substance abuse is another tendency in some girls as well as boys with precocious puberty which would be socially unacceptable (Graber Et Al , 1997

The social interrelationship between puberty , impact of familial influence and weight control leading to enhanced self esteem has also been identified by Hill and Pallin (1998 . The study which was related to children who were on the verge of puberty or had attained puberty thus being in the 8 year old age group , very clearly indicates that there was greater awareness in the body shape in this target population (Hill . Pallin , 1998 . The researchers attempted to link this with self esteem and found very sound co relations . Thus it was seen that girls who have a lower self esteem had continually attributed it to a lesser perception of own body mass and thus led to control of consumption of food (Hill . Pallin , 1998 . On the other hand , those following a social trend rather than a belief in their own lower self esteem tend to ascribe it to fictional characters as , Mary-Jane ‘ to conform to the habit of dieting (Hill . Pallin , 1998 . This indicated a social rather than an intrinsic individual influence in their decisions Another influencing factor is mother – daughter relationship in girls during this period of stress and gender incongruity including that of mothers on dieting daughters (Hill . Pallin , 1998 . Thus girls who had seen their mother dieting had a greater craving for the same (Hill Pallin , 1998 . The role of social relationship with the mother has also been highlighted by Usmiani and Daniluk (1997 . The authors have indicated that body image is what one perceives of ones body and not just what is the actual physique thus , there may be grounds to believe that the influence of the mother and social relationship with the parent of the same gender may impact on self esteem during the critical period of puberty when the girl child particularly develops a keen sense of difference between the male and the female body (Usmiani . Daniluk 1997

Social acceptance of deviant behavior has also been indicated by other studies carried out by Bukowski , Et Al (2000 . It was seen that both in the case of same as well as opposite sex peers , the adolescents displayed an attraction towards those peers who were more aggressive and tend to demonstrate norms which were not necessarily consistent with good behaviour in school or class (Bukowski , Et Al , 2000 . That social pressure would be playing an important role in developing eating habits and notion of body image has been observed by Thelen Et Al (1992 . This study has envisaged a wide range of the child population from second to sixth graders . The observations are indicated as per table below which would see the salient growth of awareness of the body in the maturing child (Thelen Et Al , 1992

Grade Characteristic demonstrated

Boys Girls

Second Did not show much concern about physical factors Did not show much concern about physical factors

Fourth Lesser concern than girls on increase in weight and dieting Greater concern for increase in weight

Desire to be anorexic

Increased urge for dieting

Sixth Same as Fourth grade boys above Similar concerns as above with an increase in dissatisfaction with body image The concern expressed through the prism of social pressure on children indicated that the pubertal awareness may not be wholly related to maturation in terms of body growth alone and other aspects as social pressures may have significant impact on the same (Thelen Et Al , 1992 .Emotional development

Emotional development is a key facet of ensuring balanced growth and happiness in individuals . It is the outward demonstration of expression of emotions by a person (Polce -Lynch , Et Al , 1998 . Gender is also seen as per Polce-Lynch , Et Al (1998 ) as an important issue with emotional impact and in turn affecting body image and self expression Puberty in many ways creates a feeling of embarrassment for girls but not necessarily so for boys . There is also a lack of trust as per the researchers (Polce -Lynch , Et Al , 1998 . Intensification of gender difference due to adolescence is a significant factor in enhanced emotional impact

The key effect of puberty is a sense of confusion in the initial stages , as being different always creates a feeling of inadequacy though in some cases a sentiment of superiority could also be displayed An extreme consequence of emotional instability may even lead to suicide (Graber Et Al , 1997 . In consideration of emotional development during the critical period of puberty , a study by McCabe and Ricciardelli (1997 ) may be relevant . The authors have clearly established the co relation between the body image , body mass index emotional development and puberty . The study had specifically examined these aspects in relation to exercise dependence , desire for food craving as well as a deliberate attempt to deprivation (McCabe Ricciardelli , 1997 . Thus tendencies for anorexia and bulimia were examined . Since this has been carried out under conditions which were similar and with three observations eight months apart , during the critical period of puberty attainment , the conclusions have greater credibility (McCabe . Ricciardelli , 1997 . Thus the authors believe that there are subtle variations in responses to puberty and to causes of loss of self esteem between boys and girls . Thus girls are seen to be more involved in dependence on exercises and bulimia and anorexia than boys . They also experienced depression , body dissatisfaction and higher importance of body image than boys who demonstrated only depression and significance of body image (McCabe . Ricciardelli , 1997 . The physical manifestations of these are generally evident with the greater focus of boys in activities which can produce muscular demonstration of body image . In the girls on the other hand it is the need for control of body mass resulting in bulimia /anorexia , the latter being more predominant The common factor of depression in boys and girls indicates that this emotional issue in puberty can be considered more prevalent and constant between the genders

Physical activity has been seen as an important facet of mental well being . It drives mental health as much as it is effective in checking purely physical diss as heart and other ailments (Fox , 1999 Physical exercise in general and not merely related to puberty is seen to result in greater self esteem , more stable emotional balance and reduces anxiety and stress . It may therefore not be irrelevant to state that exercise can act as a powerful catalyst for improving self image and also limit other areas of concern arising during puberty , over or under eating and self image . Since it also tones up the body , body image as well as balancing of the diet is also catered for . To what extent these activities become self supporting however needs to be analyzed in greater detail as per Fox (1999


A review of literature above has enabled establishment of co relation of early onset of puberty and effects on body image , eating diss and self esteem in youth . It is seen that this factor has a significant impact on physical , emotional and social development while the influence on cognitive growth has limited evidence to support its veracity and thus needs further consideration


Abraham , Suzanne . O ‘Dea , Jennifer A . 2001 . Body mass index , menarche and perception of dieting among peripubertal adolescent females International Journal of Eating Diss . HYPERLINK “http /www3 .interscience .wiley .com /cgi-bin /jissue ” Volume 29 Issue 1 , Pages 23 – 28

Bukowski , William M Sippola , Lorrie K Newcomb , Andrew F . 2000 Variations in patterns of attraction of same- and other-sex peers during early adolescence . Developmental Psychology . 36 (2 ) Mar 2000 , 147-154

Duncan , Paula Duke . Philip L . Ritter . Sanford M . Dornbusch , Ruth T Gross . J . Merrill Carlsmith . 1985 . HYPERLINK “http /www .springerlink .com /content /1573-6601 ” Journal of Youth and Adolescence . HYPERLINK “http /www .springerlink .com /content /x21041q3xg17 ” Volume 14 , Number 3 June , 1985 Pp 227-235

Fox , Dr Kenneth R . 1999 . The influence of physical activity on mental well-being . Public Health Nutrition . Volume 2 : Issue 3 (A

Graber , J , Lewinsohn , PM , Seeley , JR , Brooks-Gunn , J . 1997 . Is psychopathology associated with the timing of pubertal development Journal of the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry , 1997 36 : Pp 1768-1776

Hill , Andrew J . Victoria Pallin . 1998 . Dieting awareness and low self-worth : Related issues in 8-year-old girls . HYPERLINK “http /www3 .interscience .wiley .com /cgi-bin /jhome /34698 ” International Journal of Eating Diss . HYPERLINK “http /www3 .interscience .wiley .com /cgi-bin /jissue /77107 ” Volume 24 Issue 4 , Pages 405 – 413

Jones , Diane Carlson . 2001 . Social Comparison and Body Image Attractiveness Comparisons to Models and Peers among Adolescent Girls and Boys . Sex Roles : A Journal of Research . Publication Year : 2001

Keel , Pamela . Jayne A . Fulkerson . Gloria R . Leon . 1997 . Dised Eating Precursors in Pre- and Early Adolescent Girls and Boys . Journal of Youth and Adolescence . HYPERLINK “http /www .springerlink .com /content /u2r0jtqhq20k ” Volume 26 , Number 2 / April , 1997 . Pp 203 – 216


. McCabe . Lina A . Ricciardelli . 2006 . HYPERLINK “http /www .springerlink .com /content /1573-6601 ” Journal of Youth and Adolescence . HYPERLINK “http /www .springerlink .com /content /p8xwt367h805 ” Volume 35 , Number 3 / June , 2006 . 402-411

O ‘ Dea , Jennifer . Abraham , Suzanne . 2000 . Improving the body image eating attitudes , and behaviours of young male and female adolescents : A new educational approach that focuses on self-esteem . International Journal of Eating Diss . Volume 28 , Issue 1 . Pp 43 – 57

Polce-Lynch , Mary . Renate Forssmann-Falck . Christopher T . Kilmartin Wendy Kliewer . Barbara J . Myers 1998 . Gender and Age Patterns in Emotional Expression , Body Image , and Self-Esteem : A Qualitative Analysis . Sex Roles : A Journal of Research . Volume : 38 . Issue : 11-12 Publication Year : 1998

Precocious puberty . 2006 . HYPERLINK “http /www .med .umich .edu /1libr /yourchild /puberty .htm (09 http /www .med .umich .edu /1libr /yourchild /puberty .htm (09 September 2006

Sands , Rob . Julie Tricker . Cheyne Sherman . Christine Armatas . Wayne Maschette . 1999 . Dised eating patterns , body image , self-esteem and physical activity in preadolescent school children . HYPERLINK “http /www3 .interscience .wiley .com /cgi-bin /jhome /34698 ” International Journal of Eating Diss . HYPERLINK “http /www3 .interscience .wiley .com /cgi-bin /jissue /49704 ” Volume 21 Issue 2 , Pages 159 – 166

Suzzane , Abraham . 2003 . Dieting , body weight , body image and self-esteem in young women : doctors ‘ dilemmas . The Medical Journal of Australia Volume , 178 (12

Thelen , Mark H ?Anne L . Powell , Christine Lawrence ?Mark E . Kuhnert 1992 . Eating and Body Image Concern Among Children . HYPERLINK “http /www .leaonline .com /loi /jccp ” Journal of Clinical Child Psychology . 1992 , Vol . 21 , No . 1 , Pages 41-46





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nia , Judith Daniluk 1997 . Mothers and their adolescent daughters relationship between self-esteem , gender role identity , and body image Journal of Youth and Adolescence . Volume : 26 . Issue : 1 . Publication Year : 1997 . Page Number : 45 … [banner_entry_footer]

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