Study aim: To compare the perception of own body by adolescent boys with an external assessment.
Material and methods: Two groups of boys (45 from Warsaw, aged 15 – 16 years, and 49 from a small town in South- Eastern Poland, aged 16 years) were studied by using standard body image templates containing 9 shapes. Every boy indicated the perceived shape and that he wished to have. The external assessment was done by the same investigator and that assessment served to classify boys as underweight (n = 4), normal (n = 51) or overweight (n = 39; Shapes 1 – 2, 3 – 4 and 5 – 9, respectively) and to correlate the scores with BMI.
Results: The external and self-assessments were concordant in overweight boys, the desired shapes being significantly lower only in Group 1. The percentage of overweight boys was significantly (p<0.05) higher in Group 1 than in Group 2. “Normal” boys from Group 1 significantly (p<0.001) overrated their body shape compared with external rating. External ratings of body shape significantly correlated with BMI values in both groups alike (r = 0.82, p<0.001).
Conclusions: The presented approach to body shape studies may contribute to preventing biosocial disorders in adolescent boys brought about by thoughtless striving for an ideal shape promoted by mass media.