Does Depressed Mood Moderate the Influence of Drive for Thinness and Muscularity on Eating Disorder Symptoms Among College Men?

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Abstract

Research suggests men have become increasingly concerned about their bodies with respect to both thinness and muscularity, and these concerns are associated with behavioral and psychological consequences that differ from women. The current study evaluated depressed mood as a moderator of associations between drives for thinness and muscularity and eating disorder symptoms among male college students and examined whether these relationships differed from women. Participants included 669 undergraduate students (34.4% men) who completed an online survey assessing body image, depressed mood, and other health-related attitudes and behaviors. Results of negative binomial regression analyses revealed a greater risk of eating disorder symptoms among men with greater drives for thinness, muscularity, and depressed mood. Depressed mood moderated the association between drive for thinness and eating disorder symptoms in both men and women, such that the significant relationship between drive for thinness and eating disorder symptoms was stronger among those with lower levels of depressed mood. Drive for muscularity was positively associated with a greater risk of eating disorder symptoms for men with lower levels of depressed mood. These findings add to the growing literature on the relationship between depressed mood and eating disorder symptoms among college men. Given previous research in this area has primarily focused on women, future work is needed to inform screening and intervention strategies targeting college men exhibiting depressed mood and eating disorder symptoms.

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