Academic journal article Studia Psychologica

Parent-Daughter Relationships and Disordered Eating among Emerging Adult Women from the Czech Republic

Academic journal article Studia Psychologica

Parent-Daughter Relationships and Disordered Eating among Emerging Adult Women from the Czech Republic

Article excerpt

Many young women are engaged in weight-loss behaviors (Wardle, Haase, & Steptoe, 2006), some of which are unhealthy (e.g., vomiting) and are likely to place them at risk of developing major health problems. Previous findings indicate that parentdaughter relationships have an important influence on the daughters' eating- and weight-related attitudes and behaviors during childhood and adolescence (e.g., Quiles Marcos, Quiles Sebastián, Pamies Aubalat, Botella Ausina, & Treasure, 2013). However, the extent to which these influences operate after adolescence is less clear. Hence, the present study examines the association between current parent-daughter relationship characteristics and disordered eating behaviors among emerging adult women (18 to 29 years old).

Disordered Eating Behaviors

In order to lose weight some women engage in disordered eating behaviors, including unhealthy weight control behaviors (UWCB), such as skipping meals, or more extreme weight control behaviors (EWCB), such as self-induced vomiting (Larson, Neumark-Sztainer, & Story, 2009). These disordered eating behaviors are associated with less healthy dietary patterns (Larson et al., 2009). Hence, it is important to understand the factors associated with the development of these disordered eating behaviors.

Studies on Parent-Daughter Relationships and Disordered Eating Behaviors

These studies can be divided into clinical and non-clinical ones. Traditionally, the first group has focused on the role of families in the etiology, psychopathology, treatment and maintenance of eating disorders. Most of these studies adhere to either family functioning theories or attachment theory (Holtom-Viesel & Allan, 2014; see Tasca & Balfour, 2014). However, many of these studies have been conducted with women who have already developed an eating disorder (including chronically ill patients) and the illness itself may affect family functioning (Holtom-Viesel & Allan, 2014). Therefore, their findings can hardly be generalized. Furthermore, many of these studies have focused only on mother-daughter interactions (Ward, Ramsay, & Treasure, 2000) and those including father data have tended to omit different family scenarios (e.g., fathers not living at home) (Gale, Cluett, & LaverBradbury, 2013).

The second group of studies relies on the general non-clinical population, examining the associations between parent-daughter relationships and disordered eating. This approach is important for the prevention of eating and weight-related problems, because it might help identify risk/protective factors for the development of such problems. However, since the age of onset of eating disorders is typically early to late adolescence (Keel, Eddy, Thomas, & Schwartz, 2010), these studies usually focus on this period or earlier periods of life. Again, it is difficult to generalize these findings to later periods, such as adulthood, and more research is needed to include periods of transition into adulthood (Keel et al., 2010).

Parent-Daughter Relationships During Emerging Adulthood

Emerging adulthood is an important contemporary developmental and transitional period, and typically occurs between the ages of 18 and 29 years (Arnett, 2015). Nowadays, young adults from many countries usually have a prolonged period of education, engage in uncommitted cohabitation and/or romantic relationships, and delay their marriage and childbirth (Arnett, 2015). During this period, emerging adults are in the process of achieving independence and autonomy from their parents (Arnett, 2015). Nevertheless, at the same time, parents can remain important figures for their daughter, and can continue to influence their daughter's eating attitudes and behaviors (Quiles Marcos et al., 2013). For instance, communication, a key factor in parent-daughter relationships, can distinctively influence eating attitudes and behaviors during emerging adulthood (Loth, MacLehose, Bucchianeri, Crow, & Neumark-Sztainer, 2014) compared to adolescence (e. …

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