Published: 4 September 2023 at 14:47
Largest study of its kind also finds people in rural areas appreciate their bodies more
Having more positive body image is strongly associated with better psychological wellbeing and life satisfaction, according to a new study led by Anglia Ruskin University (ARU).
Published in the journal Body Image, the research is one of the largest studies ever conducted on the topic of body image, involving 56,968 participants in 65 nations.
The research was focused on ‘body appreciation’, defined as “accepting, holding favourable opinions toward, and respecting the body, while also rejecting media-promoted appearance ideals as the only form of human beauty”.
Previous research has shown that high levels of body appreciation are linked to a range of positive wellbeing traits such as improved self-esteem and healthy eating habits, and negatively associated with issues such as depression and anxiety. However, few studies have assessed body appreciation across nations.
Led by researchers from Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), a consortium of scientists asked participants in 65 nations to complete the Body Appreciation Scale-2 (BAS-2), which contains 10 items, including ‘I respect my body’ and ‘I appreciate the different and unique characteristics of my body’.
The study found that across nations, greater body appreciation was significantly associated with higher psychological wellbeing, as assessed using a measure of life satisfaction. The researchers also found that body appreciation was higher in participants who were single (compared with being married or in a committed relationship) and those living in rural areas.
The study also found large differences in body appreciation scores across the 65 survey nations. Only India and Australia scored lower for body appreciation than the UK. Malta scored highest, followed by Taiwan and Bangladesh.
Viren Swami, Professor of Social Psychology at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) and lead author of the study, said: