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Does psychological functioning mediate the relationship between bullying involvement and weight loss preoccupation in adolescents? A two-stage cross-sectional study

LeE, Kirsty, GUY, Alexa, Dale, Jeremy and Wolke, Dieter (2017) Does psychological functioning mediate the relationship between bullying involvement and weight loss preoccupation in adolescents? A two-stage cross-sectional study. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 14 (1). ISSN 1479-5868

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Abstract or description

Background
Adolescent bullying is associated with a range of adversities for those who are bullied (i.e., victims and bully-victims), including reduced psychological functioning and eating disorder symptoms. Bullies are generally well-adjusted psychologically, but previous research suggests that bullies may also engage in problematic diet behaviours. This study investigates a) whether adolescents involved in bullying (bullies, victims, bully-victims) are at increased risk of weight loss preoccupation and whether psychological functioning mediates this relationship and b) whether sex is a key moderator.
Method
A two-stage design was used. In stage 1, adolescents (n=2782) from five UK secondary schools were screened for bullying involvement using self and peer reports. In stage 2, a sample of bullies, victims, bully-victims and uninvolved adolescents (n=767) completed a battery of assessments. The measures included the eating behaviours component of the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Assessment, which was reduced to one factor (weight loss preoccupation) and used as the outcome variable. Measures of self-esteem, body-esteem and emotional problems were reduced to a latent (mediator) variable of psychological functioning.
Results
Bullies, victims and bully-victims were at increased risk of weight loss preoccupation compared to adolescents uninvolved in bullying. The mechanism by which bullying involvement related to increased weight loss preoccupation varied by bullying role: in bullies the effect was direct, in victims the effect was indirect (via reduced psychological functioning) and in bully-victims the effect was both direct and indirect. Sex significantly moderated the relationship in bullies: weight loss preoccupation was only statistically significant in bullies who were boys.
Conclusion
Bullying involvement during adolescence is associated with weight loss preoccupation. Bullies are likely driven by a desire to increase attractiveness and social status; whereas weight loss preoccupation in bullied adolescents may have maladaptive influences on diet and exercise behaviours due to its association with reduced psychological functioning. Peer victimisation should be considered as a potential modifiable risk factor for weight loss preoccupation and associated maladaptive diet and exercise behaviours.

Item Type: Article
Faculty: School of Life Sciences and Education > Psychology
Depositing User: Library STORE team
Date Deposited: 13 Aug 2018 10:20
Last Modified: 13 Aug 2018 10:22
URI: http://eprints.staffs.ac.uk/id/eprint/4636

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