Disturbed attitudes to weight control in female kibbutz adolescents: A preliminary study with a view to prevention

Yael Latzer, Sarit Shatz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Eating disorders have physical, emotional, social, and cultural aspects, which are manifested in the individual's preoccupation with food, physical build, and weight, and are maladjusted means of dealing with mental and emotional problems. The practice of unhealthy means of weight regulation and eating disorders affects the individual, family, community, and society at large, and affects primarily adolescent girls and young women in Western society. Thus, there exists today an urgent need to develop a comprehensive community prevention program. This preliminary study is an attempt to determine the scope of the problem among adolescent girls (n = 38) and their significant others (n = 42), in a kibbutz in northern Israel. Self-evaluation questionnaires were used to examine attitudes and characteristics related to eating and body image, in addition to a questionnaire for evaluation of knowledge-ability and attitudes among the adolescents' significant others. It was found that 85% of adolescent girls were dissatisfied with their figure, 63% were considering a diet, and 60% were afraid of losing control over their weight. Fifty-five percent of significant others did not think that eating disorders were more prevalent in families with fallacious attitudes about physical build and eating, and 50% thought that pubescent girls should be encouraged to diet. In addition, a group at risk for developing eating disorders (n = 12) was found. Significant differences in all the indicators were found between the latter group and the other girls. The findings reinforce those of research studies from other Western countries, and establish the need for a community prevention program at three levels of prevention, targeting the community in general and focusing on adolescents' significant others as agents of change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-237
Number of pages13
JournalEating Disorders
Volume9
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology

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