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The association between childhood maltreatment and body (dis)satisfaction in adolescents and young adults from the general population.

Adolescents with a history of childhood maltreatment are vulnerable to body dissatisfaction and associated psychopathology such as eating disorders. The aim of this study was to expand the understanding of the association between childhood maltreatment and body dissatisfaction in adolescents and young adults. In an epidemiological cohort study, N  = 1,001 participants aged 14-21 years from Dresden, Germany, completed self-report measures on childhood maltreatment, body image, and self-esteem. Lifetime mental disorders were assessed in standardized clinical interviews. Data analyses included multiple regression and mediation analyses. More than one-third of the participants reported experiences of childhood maltreatment (37.4%), in which emotional neglect and abuse were the most frequent subtypes. Individuals with a history of childhood maltreatment showed significantly less satisfaction with their physical appearance than participants without such adverse experiences. In a single mediator model, self-esteem emerged as potential mediator in the association between child maltreatment and body (dis)satisfaction. Experiences of childhood maltreatment may be considered as risk factor for the development of body dissatisfaction in adolescents, and the role of potential mediator variables such as self-esteem warrants further prospective research.

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