The socialization of weight preoccupation and dieting behavior among Japanese adolescent girls: Maternal and peer influences.
Committee ChairMcCloskey, Laura A.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe purpose of this study was to increase our understanding of the mechanisms for socialization influences upon eating disorder tendencies in Japanese adolescent girls. A total of 867 female students in grades 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11 from single-sex and mixed-sex high schools completed questionnaires assessing eating attitudes and behavior, interactions with the mother and peers in the eating/dieting domain, perceived warmth and control of the relationship with the mother and peers, and sensitivity to social evaluation. The mothers completed questionnaires including their eating attitudes and behavior, interaction with daughters in the eating/dieting domain, sex role attitudes, and concern for personal appearance. Girls attending single-sex schools showed a greater prevalence of weight preoccupation and dieting behavior, compared to girls attending mixed-sex schools. The impact of mutual monitoring and perceived control by the peers in the domain of eating and dieting seemed to increase with age, especially in the single-sex environment. The pubertal transition was found to be a particular risk period, both in terms of the girl's individual adjustment to the physical event and in terms of the changes following the menarcheal onset in her interaction with the mother and peers. Structural equation modeling was used to investigate mechanisms among the constructs hypothesized to contribute to greater eating disorder tendencies in this population. As expected, girls who were more sensitive to others' evaluations were more likely to respond to the external pressure to stay thin. Both maternal and peer influences within the eating/dieting domain had direct effects upon the girl's eating disorder tendencies. However, perceived quality of the relationship with the mother had the strongest direct effect. Overall, peers seem to influence the adolescent girl's attitudes and behaviors through their interactions in this specific domain, while the mother seems to influence through the more general climate of the mother-daughter relationship.