: Concerns about weight and body image are common among adolescents, as adolescence represents a time of intense and rapid change. This cross-sectional study assessed the difference in body image perception by sex, weight status and sports practice in a sample of Italians aged 13-18 years. For this purpose, we considered a sample of 140 adolescents subdivided into two groups: a group of sports-playing teenagers practicing volleyball (39 males and 26 females), and a group of teenagers not actively involved in sports (24 males and 51 females). Body mass index (BMI), body image variables, and sports practice were examined. Due to COVID-19 limitations, height and weight were self-reported and BMI was calculated as weight (in kilograms) divided by the square of height (in meters). Body image perception was assessed by the short version of the Body Shape Questionnaire (BSQ-14) and by the Stunkard Body Silhouette Chart. Two-way ANCOVAs adjusted for age were performed to test the differences between sexes and sports groups. Adolescent volleyball players had a lower incidence of weight disorders. Weight status significantly differed between those who played sports and those who did not, but there was no significant difference in weight status between sexes. On the whole, sports players and males showed higher results than non-sports players and females. The highest level of body image dissatisfaction was found in non-sports-playing females, while sports-playing males showed the lowest. The present study confirms the positive link between sport and body image and can be of support to lead adolescents to adopt a healthier and more active lifestyle. Further research is needed to validate our findings through a longitudinal study during the entire period of adolescence. In addition, it would be interesting to validate the results on a larger sample, also taking into account socio-demographic variables and including athletes engaged in different types of sports.
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