The role of thin-idealization in associations between body dissatisfaction, dieting, and eating pathology: A moderated mediation analysis
Dieting is associated with poor psychological health and disordered eating. For this reason, it is important to identify person-level characteristics that influence the effect of dieting on eating pathology. The Psycho-Behavioral Dieting Paradigm posits that high-intensity, appearance-focused dieting is associated with worse outcomes than low intensity, health-focused dieting. Accordingly, individuals who diet in pursuit of the thin-ideal may be at a higher risk for negative outcomes. The current study tests this model by examining associations between body dissatisfaction, dieting, eating pathology, and thin-ideal internalization in a sample of female college students (n = 342). A moderated mediation model informed by the Psycho-Behavioral Dieting Paradigm was tested to evaluate whether the indirect effect of body dissatisfaction on eating pathology through dieting is moderated by thin-ideal internalization. Dieting mediated the relationship between body dissatisfaction and eating pathology, and this mediation effect was moderated by thin-ideal internalization. Specifically, the strength of the mediation effect increased with higher thin-ideal internalization. These results suggest that the explanatory role of dieting in predicting eating pathology is particularly pronounced among women who endorse a preference for a slender body.
KeywordsBody dissatisfaction Eating Thin-ideal internalization Dieting Mediation Moderation Moderated mediation
Compliance with Ethical Standards
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
Conflict of Interest
Taona Chithambo declares that she has no conflict of interest.
- Baron, R. M., & Kenny, D. A. (1986). The moderator-mediator variable distinction in social psychological research: Conceptual, strategic, and statistical considerations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 1173–1182. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3522.214.171.1243.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2015, May 15). Body Mass Index (BMI). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/index.html.
- Dakanalis, A., Timko, C. A., Carrà, G., Clerici, M., Zanetti, M. A., Riva, G., & Caccialanza, R. (2014). Testing the original and the extended dual-pathway model of lack of control over eating in adolescent girls. A two-year longitudinal study. Appetite, 82, 180–193. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2014.07.022.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Greenstein, T. N., & Davis, S. N. (2012). Methods of family research. Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
- Hayes, A. F. (2013). Introduction to mediation, moderation, and conditional process analysis: A regression-based approach. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Haynos, A. F., Field, A. E., Wilfley, D. E., & Tanofsky-Kraff, M. (2015). A novel classification paradigm for understanding the positive and negative outcomes associated with dieting. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 48, 362–366. https://doi.org/10.1002/eat.22355.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Putterman, E., & Linden, W. (2004). Appearance versus health: Does the reason for dieting affect dieting behavior? Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 27, 185–204. https://doi.org/10.1023/B:JOBM.0000019851.37389.a7.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Stice, E., Marti, C. N., & Durant, S. (2011). Risk factors for onset of eating disorders: Evidence of multiple risk pathways from an 8-year prospective study. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 49, 622–627 http://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org.libproxy.usc.edu/10.1016/j.brat.2011.06.009.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar