Date of Award
Clinical Dietetics (M.S.)
Elizabeth MacQuillan, PhD, RDN
Jody Vogelzang, PhD, RDN
Kirk Anderson, PhD
Background. In the modern day treatment of overweight/obesity, conflicting recommendations regarding treatment have been released by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) and advocates of the Health at Every Size (HAES) movement. While the AND have indicated their support for self-monitoring practices, such as keeping a food diary or tracking calories, HAES advocates have claimed that these restrictive practices may result in increased disordered eating tendencies and poor self-esteem.
Subjects. The participants for this study included 410 students at Grand Valley State University. Almost 80% of participants were female, and just over 85% of participants identified as white. Methods. Participants completed three self-report measures through the online survey system Qualtrics: the Rosenberg Self-esteem Scale (RSES), which evaluates self-esteem; the EAT-26, which is a measure of characteristics of eating disorders, and eight items from the Big Five Inventory that measures an individual’s level of neuroticism. These data were analyzed using regression models, correlation, and Mann-Whitney U tests conducted with SPSS v.20 software.
Results. Diet tracking was significantly correlated with increased disordered eating attitudes and behaviors, as well as lower self-esteem. Self-esteem was found to be a significant negative predictor of scores on a measure of disordered eating attitudes and behaviors. Individuals who diet tracked scored higher on a measure of disordered eating. Finally, lower scores on a measure of neuroticism significantly predicted greater frequency of meeting dietary goals.
Conclusion.This study confirmed previous research findings on the correlative links between self-esteem, diet tracking, and disordered eating attitudes and behaviors. The recommendations provided by the AND and HAES proponents each have some value in health management, as demonstrated by the work of previous studies. However, the limitations of the available research and lack of data on this topic in more diverse populations suggest that additional research is required to comprehend the most optimal integration of treatment methodologies. Findings from this study support a multi-modal approach to weight management that combines mental health screening with traditional diet tracking approaches.
Cho, Liana, "The Relationship between Neuroticism, Self-Esteem, and Disordered Eating Attitudes: Examining the Health at Every Size Theory" (2018). Masters Theses. 913.