KNOW ABOUT THE PIVOTAL ROLE OF EATING DISORDERED ATTITUDES
As discussed earlier, the psychological variables related to unhealthy dieting all involve a weak sense of self-worth, which is a risk factor for the development of body dissatisfaction and eating disordered attitudes. While we tested and found support for a causal model that ran from self functioning through to unhealthy dieting, cross-sectional regression analyses are unable to rule out the possibility of bi-directional causality.
The use of unhealthy dieting techniques likely serves to further increase focus on the body and eating patterns, exacerbating the drive for thinness and body dissatisfaction, and feeding back into lower levels of self-esteem. Summary Weight-loss attempts in women may follow two very different paths. In one path, women utilise healthy dieting techniques with no apparent detriment in self or relationship functioning.
Dysfunctional attitudes towards one’s body and eating appear to play a pivotal role in the use of unhealthy dieting techniques for weight loss. As hypothesised in a mediational model, lower levels of self functioning (higher depression, lower self-esteem, higher attachment anxiety) predicted higher levels of dysfunctional attitudes towards body image and eating, which in turn predicted higher levels of unhealthy dieting. This suggests that self-esteem does not cause unhealthy dieting directly but through the way in which self-esteem produces changes in attitudes towards body image and eating. Women turn to the use of such negative dieting behaviours to the extent that they have developed disordered eating attitudes such as a strong drive to be thin, dissatisfaction with their bodies, and a loss of control over their eating behavior.