The inter-relationship between diet, selflessness, and disordered eating in Australian women

Melissa Collins, Stephanie Quinton

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Abstract

Personality traits and diet can be used to predict if a person is predisposed to disordered eating. Results of this study demonstrate a strong significant relationship between the personality trait of selflessness, diet group, and disordered eating. Vegans were most likely to display selflessness tendencies associated with disordered eating; however when selflessness was controlled for, vegans displayed substantially less disordered eating pathology than non-vegetarians. Objective: To explore the relationship between diet group (non-vegetarian, semi-vegetarian, true-vegetarian, and vegan) and disordered eating while investigating to what extent personality trait of selflessness mediates the relationship between diet group and disordered eating. Method: Cross-sectional data from 634 Australian nonclinical women who completed a series of online questionnaires including measures of diet group, disordered eating, and selflessness were used to examine associations between diet, personality (selflessness), and disordered eating. Results: Selflessness was found to be a significant positive predictor of disordered eating. Results confirm that selflessness played a suppressing role in the relationship between the vegan diet group and disordered eating, when compared to non-vegetarians. Surprisingly, vegans displayed significantly less disordered eating than non-vegetarians and semi-vegetarians. Discussion: Results of the current study imply that the role of selflessness on disordered eating, when broken down across diet group, may be more complex than first thought. If replicated, these results suggest that targeted treatment of selflessness in different diet groups may improve treatment outcomes for disordered eating. Further research should explore why diet groups differ in terms of selflessness and how this impacts disordered eating.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere01774
JournalBrain and Behavior
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 07 Aug 2020

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