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Body dissatisfaction, perceptions of competence and lesson content in physical education

Kerner, Charlotte and Haerens, Leen and Kirk, David (2018) Body dissatisfaction, perceptions of competence and lesson content in physical education. Journal of School Health, 88 (8). pp. 576-582. ISSN 1746-1561

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Abstract

BACKGROUND Significant proportions of young people experience body dissatisfaction, which has implications for psychological and physical well-being. Little is known about how factors within physical education support or hinder the development of body satisfaction. Lesson content and perceived competence may be important variables for the experience of body dissatisfaction, yet these have been underexplored in physical education. The aim of this cross sectional study is to identify the relationships between body dissatisfaction and perceptions of competence, and to explore whether body dissatisfaction depends on lesson content. METHODS A paper and pencil questionnaire was completed by 446 (210 males, 236 females) 13-14-year-old pupils from 37 physical education classes. The questionnaire assessed body dissatisfaction and perceived competence in physical education. Lesson content was also recorded. Twenty-nine of the classes were engaged in team activities, for example, ball games. Eight classes were engaged in individual activities, for example, fitness. RESULTS Multilevel analysis identified a significant negative association between body dissatisfaction and perceptions of competence in physical education. Lesson content did not significantly predict variations in body dissatisfaction scores. CONCLUSIONS Findings suggest that teachers should focus on enhancing pupils’ perceptions of competence in physical education in order to support the development of body satisfaction.