, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 207-216
Date: 02 Mar 2006

The Contribution of Emotion Regulation to Body Dissatisfaction and Disordered Eating in Early Adolescent Girls

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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.

Leslie Sim is an assistant professor at the Mayo Medical School, a Senior Associate at the Mayo Clinic, and Clinical Director of the Mayo Inpatient Eating Disorders Program. She received her Ph.D. from University of Maine in Developmental and Clinical Psychology. Her research interests include eating disorders, self-injurious behavior, and emotion regulation skills in children and adolescents.
Janice Zeman is an associate professor at the College of William and Mary. She received her Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in Developmental and Clinical Psychology. Her research interests include children's and adolescents' emotion regulation skills particularly as they relate to maladaptive functioning with other research interests in parental and peer socialization of emotion.