|dc.description.abstract||A vicious circle exists between decreased physical fitness (PF), increased body composition (body mass index and body fat percentage) and body image (BI) dissatisfaction. The media and westernised culture persist in promoting the “thin ideal”. Some confusion seems to exist in the black culture of South Africa due to the belief that “bigger is better” for females but with urbanisation, globalisation and modernisation, the “thin ideal” is becoming more apparent in the black culture. Parents and peers are misled, and consequently conform to unhealthy ideals such as being underweight or overweight. The body develops as age progresses and undergoes a stage of development known as adolescence, which causes the shape of the body to change significantly due to hormonal activity. Body image dissatisfaction increases during adolescence because of body shape shifting away from the “thin ideal”. Adolescence is also a period associated with a decrease in physical activity; therefore physical fitness dissipates. Body composition (body mass index and body fat percentage) continues to increase due to the lack of physical activity, which leads to heightened BI dissatisfaction. The consequences thereof are poor mental development, social angst (Davison & McCabe; 2006:27), depression (Murray et al., 2011:275), an increased prevalence of risk for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and chronic diseases of lifestyle (Barrett & Huffman, 2011:271). Arising from the statements made above, the following research question was posed: what are the differences between physical fitness, body composition, current body image and ideal body image, and secondly how are these aspects related to each other in black and white female adolescents?
To answer the research question, a cross sectional study design was performed on the data collected during the Physical Activity and Health Longitudinal Study (PAHL study). A total of 156 female learners attending six different high schools within the Tlokwe Local Municipality were recruited to participate in the observational longitudinal PAHL study. A letter of informed consent was signed by parents/guardians of the participants and privacy was assured during measurements. A figure rating scale of Stunkard et al. (1994) consisting of nine different silhouettes was used to determine the current and ideal BI of the participants. Furthermore body fat percentage (BF%), body mass index (BMI) and physical fitness () were measured by means of skinfold measurements and the Bleep Test. The statistical analyses consisted of independent t-test (first objective) to determine the difference between PF, BC, current BI and dependent t-tests (second objective) to determine the differences among the variables as well as non-parametric Spearman rho correlations (third objective) to determine the relationship between the variables in two different groups that consisted of black and white participants separately.
The results reflected no statistically significant difference between the two ethnicities (black and white) pertaining to the PF, BC and BI. Further, due to small sample sizes, especially in the white female group, Cohen’s effect size (ES) was calculated to give an indication of practical significance. A medium practical significance was suggested for the effect size (d = 0.37) of BF% between black and white adolescent females of this study. Moreover, a large practical significance was suggested according to Cohen’s effect size value (d = 0.70) and statistically significant difference (t(114) = -2.83, F(1,114) = 0.39, p≤0.01) in body image dissatisfaction between black and white adolescent females was found, which was the one variable that showed a major difference between the cultures within this study. Furthermore, a strong positive correlation was found between BMI (rs = 0.64, p<0.01) and BF% (rs = 0.5, p<0.01) with BI dissatisfaction in black female adolescent participants only. Both groups presented with a negative relationship between PF and body dissatisfaction although only the black female participants showed a statistically significant correlation (black adolescent females: rs = -0.21, p<0.05).
Based on the findings of this study the research question can be answered by stating that there is no significant difference between black and white female adolescents for PF, BC and current BI. However, there is a definite difference between body image dissatisfaction (current – ideal body image) among black and white female adolescents. Furthermore, the findings do however allude to a relationship between body image dissatisfaction and body composition. This positive relationship means that as the BMI and BF% increase, the body image dissatisfaction also increases. As for the black female adolescents’ of this study, the inverse relationship reported between physical fitness and body image dissatisfaction indicate that the fitter they are the more satisfied they are with their body image. Fitness may possibly be a useful method to damper the vicious circle of BI dissatisfaction that is being fed into everyday by miscellaneous influences such as media, peers and parents||en_US