Family influence on disordered eating: the role of body image dissatisfaction

Body Image. 2010 Jan;7(1):8-14. doi: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2009.09.009. Epub 2009 Nov 27.


Research has linked an appearance-focused family culture (including parental commentary about weight/size) with increased disordered eating and body image dissatisfaction in daughters. Since body image dissatisfaction is also a risk factor for disordered eating, body image dissatisfaction may contribute to the link between family focus on appearance and disordered eating. This correlational study included a sample of 268 college women who completed the Family Influence Scale, Bulimia Test - Revised, Body Shape Questionnaire, and a series of items about their parents' comments about their weight/size. Both family appearance focus and daughters' body image dissatisfaction predicted increased disordered eating in daughters. Additionally, body image dissatisfaction partially mediated the influence of family appearance focus on daughters' disordered eating. No specific type of parental comments regarding weight/size emerged as a superior predictor of eating disturbance, but encouragement to control weight/size was a stronger predictor of body dissatisfaction than other types of parental comments.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention
  • Awareness
  • Body Image*
  • Body Size
  • Body Weight
  • Bulimia / diagnosis
  • Bulimia / psychology*
  • Diet, Reducing / psychology
  • Exercise / psychology
  • Expressed Emotion
  • Father-Child Relations
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Risk Factors
  • Thinness / psychology
  • Young Adult