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Appetite. 2006 May;46(3):285-96. Epub 2006 Mar 20.

Religion, body satisfaction and dieting.

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Department of Health Education and Health Behavior, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, 4301 West Markham, #820, Little Rock, AR 72205-7199, USA.


Western societal pressures of thinness have assigned worth to the ideal body, contributing to body dissatisfaction and increased dieting. A social factor that may serve as an alternative avenue of worth than the body is religion. Survey data from a community sample (n=546) was collected to examine religion's relationships with body satisfaction and dieting. Religion was significantly related to greater body satisfaction and less dieting, and specifically negative aspects of religion were related to lower body satisfaction and greater dieting. Those utilizing more negative religious coping had lower body satisfaction (women: r=-0.47; men: r=-0.58). Self-esteem was a mediator in these relationships. In women, those reporting higher negative congregational social support were more likely to diet than those reporting lower levels (CI: 2.0; 1.2, 3.5). Overall, religion was related to body satisfaction and dieting, with specifically negative aspects of religion having more consistent and stronger relationships than other components of religion.

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