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The ideal body sizes for men and women in the United States have decreased significantly over the last 50+ years, while average body sizes increased. This discrepancy has been accompanied by elevated levels of body dissatisfaction in both women and men. In turn, body dissatisfaction can predict unhealthy eating habits and weight loss behaviors such as dieting. Body image research has found a relationship between body dissatisfaction and depressive symptoms. The present cross-sectional study aimed to test if depressive symptoms moderated the relationship between body dissatisfaction and eating patterns. The Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression scale (CES-D; Radloff, 1977) measured depressive symptoms, the Body Dissatisfaction Scale (BDS; Mutale et al., 2016) measured body dissatisfaction, and the Starting the Conversation: Diet assessment (STC; Paxton et al., 2011) measured eating patterns. The three hypotheses were: (1) higher depressive symptom scores would have a larger impact on body dissatisfaction and eating patterns in women, (2) women would have worse body dissatisfaction scores than men, and (3) depressive symptoms would moderate the relationship between body dissatisfaction and eating patterns. I conducted an online self-report survey of 18–24-year-old adults (N = 88). The survey assessed demographics, depressive symptoms, body dissatisfaction, and eating patterns. Linear regression analyses showed that higher depressive symptom scores did not have a larger impact on body dissatisfaction or eating patterns in women. A t-test for independent means only showed significant gender differences in body dissatisfaction when I accounted for the direction of body dissatisfaction. There were no significant correlations between body dissatisfaction and eating patterns. There was a small positive correlation between CES-D score and going for periods of eight hours or more without eating anything. Overall, the results did not show a link between depressive symptoms, body dissatisfaction, and eating patterns.
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Sorrell, Lucy, "Body Dissatisfaction: Searching for a Link between Depressive Symptoms, Body Image, and Eating Patterns" (2019). Senior Projects Spring 2019. 95.