This study examined the relationship between educational year level, regional differences in adolescent girls' body image perceptions, body mass index (BMI), physical activity (PA) level, self-reported health, and dietary behaviour. Also, the role of PA behavioural regulation on body image was examined. The sample (N=732; Year 7 aged 12.23 years and Year 11 aged 16.18 years) included girls in Year 7 (n=489) and in Year 11 (n=243), recruited from 17 metropolitan and 14 rural schools in Victoria, Australia. Girls completed a self-report questionnaire. Novel outcomes from this study revealed year level and region differences in girls' body image perceptions, BMI, and health behaviours. Body dissatisfaction was associated with poorer perceived health, and health behaviours, such as low PA levels and dieting and external PA motivational orientation. Interventions are needed to promote positive body image and intrinsic motivation for PA to increase PA levels among adolescent girls living in metropolitan and rural regions of Australia.
In light of the importance attributed to the presence of positive role models in promoting physical activity during adolescence, this study examined role models of adolescent girls and their influence on physical activity. Seven hundred and thirty two girls in Years 7 and 11 from metropolitan and non-metropolitan regions of Victoria, Australia, were surveyed regarding whether they had a role model (in general, not limited to sport), and if they did, the gender, age, type and sporting background of that individual. Participants were also asked about the amount of physical activity they did. Descriptive statistics and a series of generalised estimating equations, one-way ANOVAs and a chi-square analysis were conducted to analyse the data. The majority of participants nominated a family member, peer or celebrity sportsperson as their role model who was female, played sport and was less than 50 years of age. Non-metropolitan-based adolescent girls, and Year 11 adolescent girls, were more likely to select a role model who they knew played sport than metropolitan-based adolescent girls and Year 7 girls respectively. In the first two years of the study girls whose role models played sport were significantly more physically active than girls whose role models did not play sport. It is recommended that family members, peers and sports people are included as role models in programmes designed to increase physical activity.