Friendship quality, body dissatisfaction, dieting and disordered eating in adolescent girls

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Abstract

Objectives

This study examined relationships between adolescent girls' body dissatisfaction and disordered eating, quality of same-sex peer relationships and beliefs about thinness in interpersonal relationships, before and after controlling for depression.

Design

Correlations between body image, eating and friendship variables were examined before and after controlling for depressive symptoms. Top and bottom quartiles on symptom variables were identified and analyses of variance, with and without depressive symptoms entered as a covariate, were used to compare scores between groups on friendship variables.

Methods

Grade 10 girls (N=324) completed self-report questionnaires.

Results

Consistent relationships were observed between body dissatisfaction and disordered eating, and negative friendship qualities (friend alienation, friend conflict), but not positive friendship qualities (friend communication, friend trust and peer acceptance). The strength of relationships with negative friendship qualities was reduced when depressive symptoms were taken into account. High and low symptom groups differed on perceived friend concern with weight and advantages of thinness in interpersonal relationships before and after controlling for depressive symptoms.

Conclusions

Results suggest the importance of addressing negative aspects of peer relationships, social anxieties and beliefs about the importance of thinness in the peer environment as well as depressive symptoms, in interventions for body dissatisfaction and eating problems.

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