Indians are less likely to embrace their body image, the key to boosting life satisfaction, finds a large international study, involving participants from 65 countries.
The research involving over 250 scientists across the world, led by a team from Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), showed that having a more positive body image is strongly associated with better psychological well-being and life satisfaction.
Published in the journal Body Image, the research included 56,968 participants in 65 nations.
It defined body appreciation as “accepting, holding favorable opinions toward, and respecting the body, while also rejecting media-promoted appearance ideals as the only form of human beauty”.
The team of scientists asked participants in 65 nations to complete the Body Appreciation Scale-2 (BAS-2), which contains 10 items, including ‘I respect my body’ and ‘I appreciate the different and unique characteristics of my body’.
The study found that across nations, greater body appreciation was significantly associated with higher psychological well-being, as assessed using a measure of life satisfaction.
The researchers also found that body appreciation was higher in participants who were single (compared with being married or in a committed relationship) and those living in rural areas.
The study also found large differences in body appreciation scores across the 65 survey nations.
Only India and Australia scored lower for body appreciation than the UK. Malta scored highest, followed by Taiwan and Bangladesh.
“Our finding that greater body appreciation is associated with better psychological wellbeing highlights the importance of developing ways to promote more positive body image globally,” said lead author Viren Swami, Professor of Social Psychology at ARU.
Previous research has shown that high levels of body appreciation are linked to a range of positive well-being traits such as improved self-esteem and healthy eating habits, and are negatively associated with issues such as depression and anxiety. The study also showed that people who live in urban areas may feel stronger pressure to conform to body ideals promoted by western society, and it is also notable that people from countries considered culturally different to the US appeared to have broadly greater body appreciation.
“People in rural areas may also benefit from being in nature, which past research has also shown to be linked with positive body image,” Swami said.