Eating Disordered Mothers Influence to the Cause of Unhealthy Eating Behavior on Daughters Research Proposal

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The literature review in this work is conducted for the express purpose of reviewing information and previous studies which examine whether mothers with eating disorders project unhealthy eating habits on their daughters. Toward this end a great deal of literature is reviewed and findings of the studies reviewed reported.

Review of Relevant Articles

The work of Nilsson, Abrahamsson, Torbiornsson and Hagglof (2007) entitled: "Causes of Adolescent Onset Anorexia Nervosa: Patient Perspectives" reports that "Previous research of patients' descriptions of causes illustrates the complexity of the illness and points to different possible contributors to the development of anorexia nervosa. Studies of the patients' views provide research and care providers with clues for prevention and treatment strategies." Reported additionally in the work of Nilsson, Abrahamsson, Torbiornsson and Hagglof is a study that sought to identify the source of the eating disorder of participants.

One participant in the study referred to as 'Birgit' stated that her mother "was a perfectionist and very good when she was sober..." This individual reports a heavy load of responsibility for her siblings as well as her mother from the age of eight years old. Another participants 'Cecelia' stated that she had a high degree of body dissatisfaction and felt she was overweight. She also reports problems with bullying and being teased by her peers.

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Findings in the study of Nilsson, Abrahamsson, Torbiornsson and Hagglof include that the most common answers given concerning the causes of anorexia nervosa were "things that had to do with self. High own demands/perfectionism was the most common sub-category." (2007) Included in this category were factors of "high ambitions, perfectionism, and compulsory traits." (Nilsson, Abrahamsson, Torbiornsson and Hagglof, 2007) Nilsson, Abrahamsson, Torbiornsson and Hagglof report that the answers in the second follow-up were "more reflective and complex and there were more answers about family causes." (2007)

Research Proposal on Eating Disordered Mothers Influence to the Cause of Unhealthy Eating Behavior on Daughters Assignment

Nilsson, Abrahamsson, Torbiornsson and Hagglof report that there can be problems of cognition during anorexia nervosa that render difficulty in reflecting on causes. The follow-ups are stated to involve previous patients who had since become parents themselves and had a clearer view of family issues. Anorexia nervosa was seen by some participants as resulting from family members applying a great deal of pressure for academic achievement or resulting from chronic illness of a family member that pushed too much responsibility onto the shoulders of the child. (Nilsson, Abrahamsson, Torbiornsson and Hagglof, 2007, paraphrased)

Nilsson, Abrahamsson, Torbiornsson and Hagglof report that previous studies have demonstrated that "...anorexia nervosa patients experienced higher expectations from parents in comparison with a control group (Fairburn et al., 1999). Other studies (Beresin, Gordon, & Herzog, 1989; Tozzi et al., 2002) that asked patients about the causes of anorexia nervosa found family dysfunction to be the most common answer." (2007) Nilsson, Abrahamsson, Torbiornsson and Hagglof conclude by noting that the "...description of developmental crisis, problems with peers/bullying, ideals, moving/separation and sport were very stable across first and second-follow-up." (2007)

Stated as limitations in the study reported by Nilsson, Abrahamsson, Torbiornsson and Hagglof (2007) include findings being difficult to interpret in that previous patients "could have been influenced from treatment and other information concerning eating disorders since a long time had elapsed." Additionally it is stated to be known that these participants did a great deal of reading and that they might "...reproduce the stereotypes from popular literature. In the answers it was not possible to distinguish between factors -- symptoms, maintaining factors or consequences of the disorders -- that preceded the onset as was done in risk factor research." (Nilsson, Abrahamsson, Torbiornsson and Hagglof, 2007)

The work of Prescott and Le Poire (2002) entitled: "Eating Disorders and Mother-Daughter Communication: A Test of Inconsistent Nurturing as Control Theory" reports that a great deal of research offers evidence for the risk factors that are linked to the start of disorders of eating and that these are inclusive of factors relating to the "...psychological, biological and cultural explanations." (Prescott and Le Poire, 2002) An aspect of disordered eating that is stated to have been relatively unexplored is "the mechanism that perpetuates the disordered eating behaviors once they have begun. Inconsistent Nurturing as Control (INC) theory asserts that, due to competing goals of nurturing and controlling, mothers of daughters with eating disorders (or otherwise nonfunctioning individuals) will unintentionally encourage the very behaviors they are trying to extinguish through inconsistent manifestations of reinforcement and punishment." (Prescott and Le Poire, 2002)

Prescott and Le Poire report that both anorexia nervosa and bulimia "represent severe disturbances in a girl's relationship with food and with her own body image." (20020 The media has lessened its attention on these disorders since the 1980s however, the prevalence of these two eating disorders "continues to rise. It is estimated that one in five young women has an eating disorder." (2002)

Prescott and Le Poire state that "Although the existing lines of research regarding eating disorders provide some insight in explaining why a girl might start dieting, they do not explain why, for some, the dieting becomes a driving obsession. Personality characteristics, such as those with compulsive, dependent, or borderline disorders, may explain some of the puzzle, but still do not completely explain why certain women lose control of their dieting and develop full-blown eating disorders." (2002) Stated to be unclear "are the multitude of ways a mother might aid her daughter in the reduction of the eating disorder." (2002) Prescott and Le Poire stated that it is theorized that "the paradoxes that exist in the mother -- daughter relationship make it difficult for mothers to effectively help their daughters diminish eating disordered behavior." (2002)

Prescott and Le Poire (2002) report that the results of their investigation indicates that "mothers have the potential to impact significantly their daughters' eating disorders." Furthermore, it is stated that the examination of eating disorders in context "...puts the study of anorexia and bulimia squarely in the realm of a communication phenomenon. This perspective offers hope to those suffering from disordered eating, as well as to their families who are trying to help them. Treatment and rehabilitation can focus less on food and weight issues of the individual, and more on how the family system can affect the girl's recovery. A focus on familial interactions necessitates a communication-based interpretation of the development, maintenance, and treatment of eating disorders. This perspective allows the family system, particularly the mother, to become an active and effective participant in her daughter's recovery." (Prescott and Le Poire, 2002)

The work of Francis and Birch (2005) entitled: "Maternal Influences on Daughters' Restrained Eating Behavior" reports a study in which the perception of mothers' preoccupation with their own weight and eating was examined and found to be linked to their daughters' restrained eating behavior. (Francis and Birch, 2005, paraphrased) Participants in the study included 173 non-Hispanic, white mother-daughter dyads, measured longitudinally when daughter were ages 5, 7, 9, and 11.

It is reported that the mothers "who were preoccupied with their own weight and eating reported higher levels of restricting daughters' intake and encouraging daughters to lose weight over time." (Francis and Burch, 2005) The restrained eating behavior of daughters in this study was found to be linked to the encouragement of their mothers concerning weight loss. Findings in this study are stated to have suggested that the preoccupation of the mother with weight and eating through the attempt of the mother to influence the daughter's weight and eating "may place daughters at risk for developing problematic eating behaviors." (Francis and Burch, 2005)

The work of Fassino, Amianto, and Abbate-Daga (2009) entitled: "The Dynamic Relationship of Parental Personality Traits with the Personality and Psychopathology Traits of Anorectic and Bulimic Daughters" reports a study with the stated objective of exploring the "personality and psychopathology of women with EDs" and their correlation with parental personality traits. Findings in this study stated that "Women with ED displayed high harm avoidance and low self-directedness, where as restricter anorectic women had high persistence. Low persistence was common in fathers of daughters across all EDs. Fathers of restricter anorectics were highly harm avoidant. Fathers of both anorectic subtypes and mothers of bulimic women displayed low self-directedness. Parental personality traits were linearly correlated with their daughter's personality and psychopathology, but the correlation differed among EDs." (Fassino, Amianto, and Abbate-Daga, 2009)

Fassino, Amianto and Abbate-Daga (2009) conclude by stating that the parents of individuals with eating disorders "displayed personality characteristics that differed from controls and, among ED subgroups, these differences were related to their daughter's personality and psychopathology. The linear correlation did not fully explain the relationship of the parental personality traits to the presence of their daughter's ED, suggesting that a more complex personality-based family dynamic is involved. A Temperament and Character Inventory profile of the entire family may be used in the planning of family treatment."

The work of Sanftner (1993) entitled: "Maternal Influences (or lack thereof) on Daughter's Eating Attitudes and Behaviors" reports a study in which "the relation between… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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