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The dual-pathway model of binge eating: Is there a need for modification?

Sehm, Marie, Warschburger, Petra
Appetite 2017 v.114 pp. 137-145
adolescents, binging, body image, data analysis, eating disorders, etiology, girls, models, risk, risk reduction, self-esteem
The dual-pathway model proposes that body dissatisfaction might lead to binge eating (BE) through restraint eating and negative affect. Both pathways have been confirmed longitudinally, but there is evidence that the affect-pathway might rather be found in the short-term, whereas other variables might be involved over longer periods. Research suggests that self-esteem represents a key-factor in the etiology of BE in adolescent girls and might serve as a mediator between body dissatisfaction and eating pathology. Based on these findings, the aim of this study was to investigate the original dual-pathway model across 20 months and to evaluate a modified version of the model with self-esteem instead of negative affect as a mediator in the affect-pathway.We assessed eating pathology, negative affect and self-esteem by self-report in a sample of 523 adolescent girls at two time points separated by 20 months. Data were analyzed using a cross-lagged panel design.Both, the original and the modified model provided good fit to the data, but results yielded limited support for the assumptions of the original model. Neither restraint eating nor negative affect mediated the link between body dissatisfaction and BE. The modified model fit the data slightly better and results indicated that low self-esteem mediated the relationship between body dissatisfaction and BE. Notably, our results indicated that restraint eating might even reduce the risk for BE through the enhancement of self-esteem.Results suggest that the dual-pathway model could benefit from the inclusion of a more trait-like variable such as self-esteem when evaluated across the long-term. Furthermore, our findings indicate that healthy restraint eating might have positive effects on self-esteem, thereby reducing risk for BE in adolescent girls, who are dissatisfied with their bodies.