The role of fat talk in eating pathology and depressive symptoms among mother-daughter dyads

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The present study investigated how eating pathology and depressive symptoms were related to the dyadic dynamics of fat talk in mother-daughter relationships during adolescence. The current sample included 100 mother-daughter dyads who completed a survey on their fat talk disclosure, eating pathology, and depressive symptoms. The Actor-Partner Interdependence Model (APIM) was utilized for the dyadic data. Adolescent girls’ and mothers’ engagement in fat talk was related to their own eating pathology. Daughters, but not mothers, who engaged in more fat talk reported more depressive symptoms. When mothers and daughters both had high levels of fat talk, it was associated with a higher risk of daughters’ eating pathology. Adolescent girls who engaged in fat talk reported higher depressive symptoms when their mothers did not reciprocate with more fat talk. This study highlights the importance of an interpersonal approach to fat talk research and clinical interventions addressing adolescents’ eating disorders and depression.

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