The Contribution of Emotion Regulation to Body Dissatisfaction and Disordered Eating in Early Adolescent Girls
To understand whether difficulties in emotional functioning distinguish between body dissatisfaction and disordered eating, a set of emotion regulation (i.e., negative emotion, emotional awareness, coping), demographic (i.e., age), and physical (i.e., BMI (Body Mass Index)) factors were assessed in 234 early adolescent girls, grades six to eight. Compared to younger girls, older girls had higher BMI and reported increased body dissatisfaction. Age, BMI, and negative affect predicted body dissatisfaction, whereas BMI, body dissatisfaction, and lack of emotional awareness predicted disordered eating. Further, girls who reported high levels of disordered eating reported experiencing increased levels of negative affect, greater difficulties with emotional awareness, and more difficulty coping constructively with negative emotion than girls who reported low levels of disordered eating. Results support the contention that body dissatisfaction, combined with difficulties in emotional awareness are related to disordered eating.