Attachment, rumination, and disordered eating among adolescent girls: The moderating role of stress

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Eating and Weight Disorders - Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity


Purpose : Disordered eating behaviors are prevalent and problematic in adolescent girls. Given that disordered eating has been linked to attachment insecurity and emotion dysregulation, the current study used an emotion regulation model of attachment theory to investigate pathways to disordered eating among adolescent girls. While past research has examined attachment and eating, an emotion regulation perspective is rarely used. Additionally, limited studies have investigated specific types of eating or mediators or moderators. To address these research gaps, this study examined whether rumination mediates the relationship between attachment anxiety and avoidance and three types of disordered eating and whether stress moderates this mediation. Methods:100 adolescent girls (Mage = 14.35 years, SD = 2.29) completed online surveys including the Relationship Structures Questionnaire, Dutch Eating Behaviour Questionnaire, Rumination Questionnaire, and Perceived Stress Scale. Results: The interaction between stress and attachment anxiety on rumination was significant (b = .09, SE = .04, p < .05), and stress and attachment anxiety predicted emotional eating through rumination (b = .50, SE = .15, p < .05). Rumination also predicted external eating (b = .32, SE = .11, p < .05). The mediation was not significant for restrained eating. Attachment avoidance did not significantly predict eating behaviors. Conclusion The emotion regulation model of attachment theory provides a suitable framework for studying disordered eating in adolescent girls. Future research may continue the use of this framework to examine related topics. Clinicians treating girls experiencing disordered eating may use interventions to promote healthy emotion regulation strategies.

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