Parental Confirmation, Body Dissatisfaction, and Disordered Eating Behaviors Among Female College Students

Published date01 December 2019
Date01 December 2019
AuthorEmiko Taniguchi
E T University of Hawaii at Manoa
Parental Conrmation, Body Dissatisfaction,
and Disordered Eating Behaviors Among Female
College Students
Objective: To examine whether parental com-
munication is associated with body dissatisfac-
tion and disordered eating among college-age
daughters and whether these associations are
mediated by psychological well-being.
Background: Appearance-related parental
comments such as weight criticism have been
shown to contribute to daughters’ body dis-
satisfaction and disordered eating. Yet less is
known about how the general quality of parental
communication that is not directly related to
appearance is associated with these problems.
Method: Structural equation modeling was
used with a convenience sample of 306 under-
graduate women who completed an online
survey that included perceptions of mothers’
and fathers’ acceptance (i.e., warmth and care)
and challenge (i.e., pushing childrenso that they
can achieve greater success).
Results: Parental conrmation was associated
with greater psychological well-being, which, in
turn, was negatively related to body dissatisfac-
tion and disordered eating behaviors. The asso-
ciations of acceptance and challenge with body
dissatisfaction differed by parental sex.
Conclusion: The ndings suggest that
body-satised daughters who are less likely
Department of Communicology, Universityof Hawaii, 2560
Campus Road, Honolulu, HI 96822 (
Key Words: body dissatisfaction, conrmation, family com-
munication, female college students, disordered eating,
psychological well-being.
to engage in disordered eating have (a) a
combination of accepting and challenging com-
munication from mothers and (b) accepting (not
challenging) communication from fathers.
Implications: Family practitioners are encour-
aged to educate parents about the link between
their communication and daughters’ issues sur-
rounding body image and eating behaviors.
Body dissatisfaction and disordered eating
behaviors have been a health concern in the
United States, especially among female col-
lege students (Berg, Frazier, & Sherr, 2009;
Krahn, Kurth, Gomberg, & Drewnowski, 2005).
Disordered eating refers to a wide range of
troublesome eating behaviors, including food
restriction (e.g., dieting, fasting), purging, bing-
ing, and other inadequate methods to control
or lose weight, without meeting the criteria of
an eating disorder (Pereira & Alvarenga, 2007).
Although individuals with body dissatisfac-
tion or disordered eating might not meet the
full criteria for an eating disorder diagnosis,
the affected individuals nonetheless still often
suffer psychological and physical health risks
(Gillen, Lefkowitz, & Shearer, 2006; Puccio,
Fuller-Tyszkiewicz, Ong, & Krug, 2016).
A complex web of factors is related to
body dissatisfaction and disordered eating
behaviors (Thompson, Heinberg, Altable, &
Tantleff-Dunn, 1999). For example, exposure to
sociocultural messages emphasizing the impor-
tance of thinness, thinness-ideal internalization,
624 Family Relations 68 (December 2019): 624–637

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