Body image and eating disturbances: Orthodox vs. secular Jewish women
Gluck, Marci Elise
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This study investigated differences in body dissatisfaction and eating behaviors in a group of 127 female students from several different Universities and Colleges in the Northeast. Seventy-eight Orthodox Jewish women were contrasted with 49 secular Jewish women.;Three hypotheses were tested. The primary hypothesis proposed that secular women would have more body dissatisfaction than Orthodox women. Secondary hypotheses included that: (1) secular women would have more disturbed eating behaviors and attitudes, and higher rates of eating disorders than Orthodox women and; (2) the degree of body dissatisfaction would be related to the degree of eating disturbances within both groups.;The primary hypothesis of the study was partially supported by this sample of undergraduate Jewish women. Secular subjects scored significantly higher than Orthodox women did on the Body Shape Questionnaire (BSQ), a measure of body dissatisfaction (t = 3.0, p < .01). The findings supported the secondary hypothesis with secular women scoring higher on the Eating Disorders Examination (EDE-Q), a measure of overall eating pathology than their Orthodox counterparts (t = 3.1, p < .01). Higher BSQ scores were related to higher scores on the EDE-Q (r2 = .88, p < .001).;These findings indicate religious group differences in measures of body dissatisfaction and eating behaviors which may suggest that religion serves to protect individuals from the development of body dissatisfaction and overall eating pathology. This study contributes data on the existence of religion as a significant variable in the sociocultural model of the development of body dissatisfaction and eating disorders. Results encourage further exploration of religion as an important link in a sociocultural model of eating disorders.