This study, based on U.S. nationally-representative data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (8,593 13–18 year old girls), explored how perceived breast development was related to psychological well-being among adolescent girls including variations by age and race-ethnicity. It was hypothesized that greater breast development would detrimentally influence adolescent girls’ psychological well-being, although these associations were expected to be stronger for younger adolescent girls and for Whites. Results using multivariate regression analyses with robust standard errors showed that greater perceived breast development was associated with lower self-esteem and higher depressive symptoms for 13–15 year old White, African American (for self-esteem only), and Hispanic (for depressive symptoms only) girls. Although perceived breast development was not associated with 16–18 year old girls’ self-esteem, supplemental analyses found that 16–18 year old Asian American and White girls with considerable or little breast development had more depressive symptoms than those with some breast development. Menarche at a younger age, overweight BMI, perceptions of being overweight, and efforts to lose weight explained a substantial portion of these associations. This study shows that greater perceived breast development, particularly if it occurs at a younger age, is a risk factor for poorer psychological well-being among adolescent girls including racial-ethnic minorities.
Sex Roles – Springer Journals
Published: Mar 8, 2012
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