-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, Sept. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Young women with critical,
over-involved mothers are more likely to have disordered eating
attitudes and poor social skills, according to a new study.
Disordered eating attitudes involve "body dissatisfaction and
unhealthy weight control beliefs and practice," the researchers
explained. These attitudes are common among women in the United
States, but do not always cause eating disorders.
The study included 286 female university students, average age
21, their mothers, and an adult sibling, all of whom individually
filled out online questionnaires.
While family dynamics, such as conflict and control, can affect
children's emotional and social well-being, neither of these
factors predicted daughters having poor social skills and
disordered eating attitudes.
But having a mother who was overly involved and highly critical
was directly related to such problems in daughters, according to
the study published online Sept. 18 in the journal
"It appears that this corrosive form of family communication is particularly damaging to individuals' sense of self and well-being, as it seems to promote a struggle for control and self-enhancement," study lead author Analisa Arroyo, an assistant professor of communication at the University of Georgia in Athens, said in a journal news release.
"We believe that disordered eating can develop as a compensatory technique for dealing with social incompetence and negative emotions," she added.
Parents are the main influences in the development of their
children's self-concept and social skills, the researchers pointed
out. If parents focus on "healthy parent-child relationships and
teaching their children effective communication skills, such social
competence may serve as a protective factor in the development of
psychological distress and disordered eating attitudes," they
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