A study of eating attitudes in the general population of Ireland and the link, if any, to self esteem

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Delahunty, Fiona
Issue Date
BA (Hons) Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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This research project attempts to ascertain the level of risk of developing an eating disorder in the general population of Ireland. Eating attitudes are measured using the Eating Attitudes Test 26 ("EAT26), (Gardner, Olmstead, Bohr & Garfinkle, 1982). These results are then compared to the results of the Rosenberg Self Esteem scale (USES") (Rosenberg, 1989), for correlation. There appears to have been little past research on eating attitudes in general populations, and none in the population of Ireland. The majority of studies have investigated eating attitudes in pre-adolescents or adolescents only. In this study, two hundred and twenty eight individuals completed the questionnaire. A positive correlation was found between those who scored highly «20) on the EAT26, and lower scores on the SES. This suggested that disordered eating and negative body image is associated with lower self-esteem. Differences in gender were also discovered and the results of the study found a ratio of 6:1 for EAT26 scores over 20 in female to male participants. This agrees with past research in community samples. There was however a significant standard deviation found between the mean scores of the EA T26 for both male and female participants, however this may have been distorted by some extreme scores in the EAT26. Areas for further study could be to investigate whether a higher socio-economic status in Ireland increases risk of disordered attitudes towards food and body for individuals. In addition, the relationship between parents who diet in Ireland and attitudes towards food and body in their children could also yield interesting results. It might also be interesting to investigate the eating attitudes and self esteem on the homosexual population in Ireland.