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South African Medical Journal

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Factors influencing eating attitudes in secondary-school girls in South Africa - a preliminary stud

Christopher Paul Szabo, Clare Hollands

Abstract


Objectives. To establish factors in the environment, e.g. family, peer or media, as well as individual factors, e.g. self-perception, which may influence eating attitudes.

Design. Cross-sectional survey.

Setting. Non-clinical, community-based.

Subjects. Female high-school pupils.

Outcome measures. Responses to questions pertaining to environmental as well as individual factors for each respondent ('dieting questionnaire'; self report). Total scores derived from a self-report questionnaire pertaining to eating attitudes (Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-2)). Statistical analysis, using analysis of variance procedures, to determine significant associations between the two questionnaires.

Results and conclusions. Specific individual wishes, perceptions, behaviours and topics of conversation appear to influence as well as predict eating attitudes. Family, especially maternal, factors play a role in determining eating attitudes. Peer and media (television) factors are not significantly influential. The findings provide preliminary data on factors that influence eating attrtudes in a group at risk for the development of eating disorders. The findings have implications for the formulation of preventive strategies within a comprehensive treatment approach.




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