The role of emotion regulation in the relationship between mindfulness and risk factors for disordered eating: A longitudinal mediation analysis

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Abstract

Objective: Evidence suggests mindfulness may reduce risk factors for disordered eating. However, mechanisms of change in this relationship are unclear. This longitudinal study tested whether emotion regulation mediates the prospective associations between mindfulness and two proximal risk factors for disordered eating: weight and shape concerns, and negative affect. Method: This study is a secondary analysis of data collected within an eating disorder prevention trial. Adolescent girls (N = 374, M age = 15.70, SD = 0.77) completed self-report measures of mindfulness, emotion regulation, weight and shape concerns, and negative affect at baseline, 2 months following baseline, and 7 months following baseline. Path analyses were computed to test hypothesized indirect effects using confidence intervals based on 5000 bootstrap samples. Results: Higher baseline mindfulness predicted lower weight and shape concerns and negative affect at 7 months via a mediator of better emotion regulation at 2 months. This effect remained while controlling for earlier measurements of the mediator and outcome in the model of negative affect but not weight and shape concerns. Discussion: Emotion regulation may be an important mechanism explaining how mindfulness influences negative affect. Efforts should be made to intervene on mindfulness and emotion regulation in prevention and early intervention programmes for eating disorders and other psychiatric conditions. Public Significance: Research has shown that mindfulness can help to reduce some of the risk of developing an eating disorder. This study explored whether mindfulness reduces some of this risk by helping people to better manage their emotions. Understanding this process can help us to develop better mindfulness-based strategies to support people who are at risk of developing an eating disorder.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Early online date11 Nov 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Nov 2022

Keywords

  • body image
  • eating disorders
  • emotion regulation
  • longitudinal design
  • mechanisms
  • mediation analysis
  • mindfulness
  • mindfulness-based intervention
  • negative affect
  • weight and shape concerns

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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