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Watching your weight? The relations between watching soaps and music television and body dissatisfaction and restrained eating in young girls

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Although previous research showed that the thin ideal provided by the media affects body image and eating behaviour in young children, less is known about specific media contents that are related to body image and eating behaviour. This study tested the associations between watching soaps and music television and body dissatisfaction and restrained eating directly, and indirectly through thin ideal internalisation. We conducted a survey in class, in which 245 girls (aged 7-9) completed scales on their television watching behaviour, thin ideal internalisation, body dissatisfaction and restrained eating. Additionally, height and weight were measured. Watching soaps and music television often was associated with higher thin ideal internalisation, which in turn was associated with higher body dissatisfaction and restrained eating. Furthermore, a direct association between watching soaps and music television and restrained eating was found. If watching other types of children's programmes or maternal encouragement to be thin were included in the models, watching soaps and music television remained an important factor, especially with regard to restrained eating. Therefore, our results suggest that if young girls watch soaps and music television often, this is related to higher restrained eating and body dissatisfaction, directly or indirectly, through higher thin ideal internalisation.
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Keywords: body dissatisfaction; media; music television; restrained eating; soap operas; thin ideal internalisation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Developemental Psychopathology, Radboud University, Nijmegen, Netherlands 2: Clinical Psychology, Radboud University, Nijmegen, Netherlands

Publication date: November 1, 2009

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