The role of thin-idealization in associations between body dissatisfaction, dieting, and eating pathology: A moderated mediation analysis

  • Taona P. Chithambo


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.


Body 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.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed Consent

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.


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Copyright information

© This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.VA HSR&D Center for the Study of Healthcare Innovation, Implementation, and Policy (CSHIIP)VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System SepulvedaUSA

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