To explore the impact of religion on the development of disturbances in body image and eating behaviors.
78 Orthodox Jewish women were compared with 48 secular Jewish women.
Participants completed the Body Shape Questionnaire (BSQ), the Eating Disorder Examination-Questionnaire Version (EDE-Q), and the Figure Rating Scale (FRS).
Despite a similar body mass index of 22.2 +/- 2.8 SDs, the secular women scored significantly higher on the BSQ (P = .005) and the EDE-Q (P = .004) than the Orthodox women. The secular women also had greater eating disorder symptomatology: more laxative use (P = .02) and a trend toward more vomiting (P = .06) and diuretic use (P = .06), although not more binge eating. They were twice as likely to have a fear of becoming fat (P = .05) and were four times as likely to be influenced by their shape and weight (P = .001). Also, despite increased media exposure, the secular group chose an ideal body size on the FRS similar to that of the Orthodox group, suggesting that their greater body dissatisfaction on the BSQ was related, instead, to greater cultural pressure for thinness (P = .007) and more shame about appearance (P = .04).
Our findings show that membership in a strict, insulated religious group such as Orthodox Judaism may protect women, to some extent, from developing body dissatisfaction and eating pathology.
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"Latzer et al. (2007) found that among modern Orthodox Jewish high school girls in Israel, greater levels of religiosity were associated with lower levels of DEP. Similarly, (Gluck and Geliebter 2002) found that among college students, secular Jewish women had higher rates of DEP than their orthodox Jewish counterparts. A recent study of Jewish high school and college students did not find differences in rates of DEP between Orthodox and non-Orthodox students. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent research suggests the importance of exploring religious and spiritual factors in relation to the continuum of disordered eating. This continuum ranges from mild disordered eating behaviors and attitudes to moderate levels of disordered eating pathology (DEP) through full-blown clinical levels of eating disorders (EDs). The current study is the first to explore the role that religious coping (both positive and negative) plays in the development DEP, which is considered a risk factor for the development of EDs. In addition, the study aims to describe levels of DEP among a non-clinical sample of 102 Orthodox Jewish adolescent females. Participants completed a questionnaire measuring religious coping strategies, DEP and self-esteem. Results indicated that greater use of negative religious coping was associated with higher levels of DEP. Mediation analyses suggested that greater negative religious coping is related to lower levels of self-esteem, which accounts for higher levels of DEP. Furthermore, findings revealed relatively lower overall levels of DEP among this sample, compared to similar populations in Israel and the USA. These results suggest that a strong religious and spiritual identity may serve as a protective factor against DEP.
Journal of Religion and Health 08/2014; 54(5). DOI:10.1007/s10943-014-9927-y · 1.02 Impact Factor
"In an environment where even cigarette smoking is strictly opposed for young women, EDs may become a way to act out their distress within the culturally sanctioned medium of food (Baruchin, 1998b). By contrast, Gluck and Geliebter (2002), who compared 78 orthodox Jewish-American women with 48 secular Jewish women, found that although both groups had similar mean BMI, secular women scored significantly higher than orthodox women on body shape disturbances and laxative use, showed a trend towards more vomiting and diuretic use, although they had no excessive binge-eating. The secular women were, in addition, twice as likely to have a fear of becoming fat and were four times more likely to associate selfacceptance with shape and weight-related ideals. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Israel presents a unique opportunity to study the role of socio-cultural parameters in the development of mental disturbances because of the exceptional diversity of the Israeli society. In the present review, we aimed to analyse the current state of disordered eating in Israel by means of an extensive literature review. The following are the main findings of our review: The frequency of maladaptive eating among female and male Israeli Jewish adolescents is higher in comparison to many other Westernized countries. Among different Jewish sub-populations, Kibbutz women have been found until recently to show higher rates of disordered eating in comparison to other Israeli samples. Recent studies show no such difference between Kibbutz members and the general Israeli population. No clear-cut findings emerge with respect to the influence of immigration and degree of Jewish religious affiliation on the occurrence of disordered eating. In contrast, disordered eating is less prevalent in Israeli-Arabs compared with Israeli-Jews. Moreover, diverse Israeli-Arab groups show different rates of disordered eating. We discuss the high rate of disordered eating in Israeli youth in light of Israel being a culture in transition that is constantly exposed to the risk of terrorism. The changes in the rates of disordered eating in the Kibbutzim are discussed in light of the dramatic societal changes occurring in these communities within a relatively brief period of time. The low rates of disordered eating in Israeli-Arabs reflect the traditional non-Westernized characteristics of their society, whereas the differences between diverse Arab sub-populations depend upon the degree of exposure to Westernized influences and the presence of conflicts between modern and traditional values.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We examined in a random-assignment, pretest-posttest design whether college women's body image would improve after reading religious and spiritual affirmations about their bodies. The sample was predominantly white and Christian. In a pretest, women completed measures of religiosity and body esteem (how they felt about their weight and appearance) and were then assigned via matched random assignment to three different groups for a treatment and posttest one week later. In the Religious group, women read affirmations with a theistic and Christian-based tone that emphasized God's love and acceptance of their bodies; in the Spiritual group, women read body affirmations with a more positive secular tone and no mention of God; Control group women read random statements about campus issues. After reading the affirmations, women then viewed photos of “thin ideal” fashion models to activate body image concerns. Women next completed the posttest body esteem measures. Women in the Religious group increased significantly compared to Control women (who declined) in how they felt about their appearance and looks. Women in the Spiritual condition improved marginally compared to the Control condition.
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 12/2007; 46(4):553 - 564. DOI:10.1111/j.1468-5906.2007.00377.x · 1.35 Impact Factor