Date of Award

1-12-2006

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Sarah L. Cook - Chair

Second Advisor

Jana Kicklighter

Third Advisor

Julia Perilla

Fourth Advisor

John L. Peterson

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore the stress-eating relation established in the literature by examining a naturally occurring stressor, adolescent dating violence, and its effect on eating in adolescent girls. Specifically, analyses focused on assessing the mediating role of depression in the adolescent dating violence-fruit and vegetable intake relation and the moderating role of sports team involvement in the adolescent dating violence-depression relation. A nationally representative sample of 5,892 black, Hispanic, and white adolescent girls were surveyed using measures assessing physical and sexual dating violence experiences, depressed affect, suicidal thoughts, plans, and/or attempts, fruit and vegetable intake and involvement in team sports. This study supported the hypothesis that depression mediates the relation between adolescent dating violence and dietary intake, but only in black adolescent girls. These findings suggest that black girls victimized by dating violence experience depression, which may affect their desire or motivation to eat properly. This study also supported the hypothesis that sports team involvement, a source of social support and physical activity, moderated the relation between adolescent dating violence and depression and suicidality, but only for white adolescent girls. For this group, participating on a sports team served to protect those girls reporting dating violence from experiencing depression at the high rate reported by those dating violence victims not involved on a sports team. The findings presented in this study provide evidence that depression explains how experiences of dating violence affect eating behavior for a high-risk group, black adolescent girls. Recognizing depression’s contribution to this group’s high rate of obesity and overweight is an important step in preventing obesity and obesity-related outcomes in this population. Also, this study highlights an important source of social support, sports team involvement, and its potential to protect dating violence victims from experiencing depression and suicidal ideation, plans, and attempts.

Included in

Psychology Commons

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