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Body Dissatisfaction and Restricted Diet in Chinese Adolescents: A Longitudinal Analysis.

BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVE: Body dissatisfaction and restricted diet frequently co-occur among adolescents. However, the exact temporal relationship between the two is unclear. Furthermore, most relevant studies concentrate on Western cultural backgrounds, with only a few investigations conducted in many non-Western developing countries, including China. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate the mutual relationship between body dissatisfaction and restricted diet among Chinese adolescents.

PATIENTS/METHODS: We recruited a sample of 672 middle school students from China (358 females, mean age = 14.33±0.94) and collected self-reported measures of body dissatisfaction and restricted diet at three-time points (with a five-month interval between each). We used cross-lagged models to examine the bidirectional relationship between body dissatisfaction and restricted diet.

RESULTS: (1) Both cross-sectional and cross-lagged correlation analysis showed positive correlation between body dissatisfaction and restricted diet ( r =0.29-0.36; r =0.25-0.35, Ps <0.001); (2) The cross-lagged effect of body dissatisfaction on restricted diet was significant ( β =0.09, 0.13, Ps <0.01), and vice versa ( β =0.20, 0.18, Ps <0.001); (3) The differences in the associations between body dissatisfaction and restricted diet across gender were found.

CONCLUSION/IMPLICATIONS: There is a bidirectional relationship between adolescents' body dissatisfaction and restricted diet. Our findings enrich the existing literature on body image and dietary health, thereby contributing to the reduction of negative body image and disordered eating among adolescents.

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