In recent research body dissatisfaction has been identified as an important risk and maintenance factor in the development of eating disorders, and studies in adolescent girls have shown a relationship between body dissatisfaction and disordered eating. Sociocultural theories have highlighted the maternal influence on body dissatisfaction and weight concerns, however, contemporary research reveals contradictory results regarding a mother’s influence on the body dissatisfaction and eating concerns of her adolescent daughter. This study investigated whether a significant relationship existed between body dissatisfaction of mothers and body dissatisfaction of their adolescent daughters in a private Johannesburg high school. A convenience sample of 97 mother-daughter pairs completed a demographic questionnaire and the Body Dissatisfaction scale of the Eating Disorder Inventory-3 (EDI-3). The daughters also completed the three scales of the EDI-3 which measure disturbed eating directly in order to screen for the presence of disturbed eating attitudes and behaviours among the adolescent girls in the sample. No significant relationship was demonstrated between the body dissatisfaction of mothers and their adolescent daughters. Among both the mothers and daughters positive relationships were shown between body dissatisfaction and body mass index (BMI). Based on the results, a mother’s own body dissatisfaction does not influence her daughter’s body dissatisfaction and disturbed eating attitudes and behaviours. Based on the screening for the presence of disturbed eating attitudes and behaviours (measured by the Body Dissatisfaction, Drive for Thinness and Bulimia scales of the EDI-3), there were girls in the sample who demonstrated disordered eating attitudes and behaviours. Higher levels of disordered eating were associated with having a higher BMI. Girls with a higher BMI tended to perceive themselves as overweight and showed more disturbed eating. The findings of the study conform to the findings of other South African studies on high school girls regarding the presence of disturbed eating attitudes and behaviours.
Dissertation (MA (Counselling Psychology))--University of Pretoria, 2008.