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Internalization of thin ideal and disordered eating: Mediating roles of attachment and parental bonding in a sample of undergraduate and graduate school Latinas

1 January 2016


Latina/os are the largest and fastest growing minority group in the United States; however, research in the realm of eating disorders has focused primarily on dominant-culture Whites. As such, to the knowledge of this researcher, this study is the first to assess the mediating roles of adult attachment style (i.e., anxious and avoidant) and parental bonding (i.e., maternal care and overprotection) in the relationship between thin ideal internalization and disordered eating solely in a U.S. Latina undergraduate and graduate student sample (N = 49). Preliminary correlational analyses indicated a significant positive relationship between thin ideal internalization and attachment anxiety as well as significant positive relationships between disordered eating and attachment anxiety, attachment avoidance, and maternal overprotection. Results of a parallel multiple meditation analysis demonstrated a positive linear relationship between thin ideal internalization and disordered eating; however, this relationship was not significantly mediated by characteristics of parental bonding or adult attachment style when these variables were included in the regression model. Post hoc analyses exploring the role of generational status in the development of disordered eating symptoms indicated significant differences in severity of disordered eating when comparing immigrant Latinas (first generation) to their U.S.-born counterparts, supporting previous research identifying acculturation and generational status as both protective and risk factors. Implications of these findings and future directions are discussed.


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