Date of Award

January 2014

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

School of Public Health

First Advisor

Marney A. White

Abstract

Objective: This study compared pro-eating disorder website visitors and non-visitors on demographic characteristics, weight and diet related variables, eating disorder psychopathology, overvaluation of thinness and attitudes towards these sites. A new measure, the Thin Commandments Scale (TCS), was developed and preliminarily validated.

Methods: The study employed a community sample of 420 adults who completed a battery of questionnaires, which also included the Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire (EDE-Q), the Sociocultural Attitudes Toward Appearance Questionnaire (SATAQ-3)-Internalization Subscale, and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). Additionally, participants responded questions regarding the harmfulness and acceptability of these sites, as well as regarding visitors' health.

Results: Visitors and non-visitors did not differ on demographic or weight and diet related variables except for age and BMI. Visitors exhibited greater eating disorder psychopathology and overvaluation of thinness than non-visitors. Visitors were less likely to judge these websites as harmful and unacceptable, but both groups reported a negative evaluation of the sites. Factor analysis for the Thin Commandments Scale revealed the presence of a single factor, internal consistency analysis showed excellent reliability and support was found for the concurrent validity of the scale.

Conclusions: These findings provide further insight into the characteristics of pro-eating disorder website visitors and confirm previous studies that showed that visitors might not conform to the stereotype of the eating disorder population. The Thin Commandments Scale showed initial promise as a way to identify people at risk for developing eating disorders, but replication with other populations is needed to confirm these findings.

Comments

This is an Open Access Thesis.

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