Parental Attachment and Eating Behaviors in Late Adolescent Females

Amber-Leigh Rush, Alice L. March

Abstract


Females demonstrating unhealthy eating behaviors in early adolescence may continue to exhibit them in later years, yet there is little empirical research including late adolescents. Attachment theories suggest that adolescents with eating disorders demonstrate insecure attachments to parents. This non-experimental descriptive study in 249 late adolescent females examined the relationship between eating behaviors and parental attachment, and explored the relationship between selected demographic variables and parental attachment. Participants responded to an electronically collected survey of demographic variables, self-reported eating behaviors, and completed the Parent Attachment Questionnaire. Participants reporting healthy eating behaviors had higher scores on two of the three maternal scales, indicating a greater level of attachment. Significantly higher scores were found for two maternal and two paternal attachment scales for selected sociodemographic variables. Quantifying parental attachment in late adolescent females enhances understanding of eating disorders in this population and may help to identify issues important to address in therapy.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/jyd.2012.118

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