Depression and social anxiety mediate the relationship between parenting styles and risk of eating disorders: A study among Arab adolescents

Ora Peleg, Orna Tzischinsky, Zohar Spivak‐Lavi
Published Online:
15 Jun 2021
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In multicultural Israel, the prevalence of eating disorders (EDs), a common chronic disorder among Western adolescents (especially females), has risen for Arab adolescents, who belong to an Eastern collectivist society. The study examines family and psychological factors that may increase the risk of EDs among Muslim Arab adolescents. We expected social anxiety and depressive symptoms to mediate the association between parenting styles and risk of EDs, with possible gender differences in the mediation model. Participants were 613 Muslim adolescents (394 females and 219 males); mean age = 15.4 ± 1.6; range = 12–19. The analyses revealed that the severity of depressive symptoms and especially social anxiety mediate the relationship between authoritarian parenting style and risk of EDs. Females reported higher levels of risk of EDs, social anxiety, depression and authoritative parenting style than males; no differences appeared for authoritarian or permissive parenting styles. The research sheds new light on risk factors for EDs and the likelihood of authoritarian parenting style and social anxiety being involved in the aetiology of EDs among Arab adolescents. The outcomes meaningfully add to understanding of specific psychological processes that may be associated with the risk of EDs in this population.

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