Volume 3 Supplement 1

Proceedings of the 2015 Australia and New Zealand Academy for Eating Disorders (ANZAED) Conference: Riding the Waves to Recovery

Open Access

Can social factors influence the dietary restraint of girls as young as five?

  • Stephanie R Damiano1Email author,
  • Susan J Paxton1,
  • Eleanor H Wertheim1,
  • Siân A McLean1 and
  • Karen J Gregg1
Journal of Eating Disorders20153(Suppl 1):O23

DOI: 10.1186/2050-2974-3-S1-O23

Published: 23 November 2015

Dieting is a risk factor for the development of eating disorders, and research suggests that dietary restraint emerges from a young age. There is a need to understand factors associated with the development of dieting intentions to prevent later disordered eating. The aim of this research was to explore individual and sociocultural factors related to 5-year-old girls' dietary restraint. Participants were 111 5-year-old girls, interviewed about their dietary restraint, body image, appearance ideals, positive weight bias, and peer conversations. Their mothers (N = 109) completed self-report questionnaires assessing dietary restraint and appearance ideals, and measures assessing their daughter's media exposure and peers' appearance interest. A moderate level of dietary restraint was reported by 34% of girls, half showed internalisation of the thin ideal, while the majority were satisfied with their body size. Higher levels of girls' dietary restraint were associated with attributing positive characteristics to thinner figures, greater internalisation of the thin ideal, more media exposure, and greater appearance conversations with peers. Sociocultural factors, including media exposure and peer conversations, were stronger predictors of dietary restraint than individual factors, suggesting that girls may have a tendency to diet due to social pressures rather than dissatisfaction with their size.

Authors’ Affiliations

(1)
School of Psychology & Public Health, La Trobe University

Copyright

© Damiano et al. 2015

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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