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Inter-generational transmission of values regarding weight, shape and appearance

By Julie A. Franklin


Many studies have shown that dieting behaviour is popular amongst adolescent girls and there is a growing body of researchw hich suggests that similar patterns of\ud dieting behaviour can be found in girls as young as 9 or 10. Although adolescent dieting is common relatively little is known about the reasons for its emergence. Previous\ud research by Pike and Rodin (1991) found higher levels of weight concern and dissatisfactions with family functioning in mothers of eating disordered adolescent girls.\ud The present study sought to extend this research by examining the maternal influences on weight and dieting concerns at a younger age. The present study investigated\ud dieting motivation and underlying attitudes to weight and shape between mothers and their young adolescent daughters. Twenty girls with high dietary restraint scores were\ud interviewed in addition to twenty girls whose restraint score fell on or below the mean. The mothers of all forty subjects were also interviewed and assessments were \ud completed including dietary restraint,body esteem, self-esteem and body figure preferences and the family enviromnent scale.\ud \ud The high restraint girls reported being more dissatisfied\ud with their body shape and tended to have lower body esteem compared to the comparison group of girls. These differences were not merely a reflection of higher body weight. Although no relationship was found between the mothers' and daughters' restraint scores the mother daughter\ud relationship did appear to be significant in other ways. The high restraint mothers and daughters both had low body esteem scores and desired to lose more weight than the comparison group of girls and mothers. Family functioning appeared to be different between the two groups. The high restraint mothers and daughters perceived the family to be less cohesive, to have lower levels of organisation and place less emphasis on moral and religious issues.\ud \ud This study has reinforced the growing recognition that pre-adolescent girls may hold high dieting motivation. It has also highlighted the significance of the family system and mother-daughter relationship in the development of disordered eating. The parallel with the findings of Pike and Rodin supports the role that mothers may play in\ud the transmission of cultural values regarding weight, shape and appearance. Importantly it also places dieting within a wider context of dissatisfaction with family functioning.\ud Clinicians should be aware of these issues as they have important implications for early intervention and prevention of eating disorders.\u

Publisher: School of Medicine (Leeds)
Year: 2002
OAI identifier: oai:etheses.whiterose.ac.uk:253

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