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.
Albert Einstein once defined the term 'insanity' as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. Whilst we are not advocating that attempts to address issues surrounging girls' physical activity (PA) participation are in vain or that all attempts have been similare in nature, we do acknowledge that these concerns, and research conceived to address these issues, are not particularly new. In fact, many authors have discussed the reported decline in PA participation by adolescent girls (and the reasons for this) both within Australian contexts (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2011; Garrett 2004; Slater and Tiggemann 2010; Wright, Macdonald and Groom 2003) and internationally (Flintoff and Scraton 2001; O'Donovan and Kirk 2008). More recently, similar trends have been highlighted in research conducted in Australian rural and regional contexts (Barnett et al. 2002; Casey, Eime, Payne and Harvey 2009).