The current research study is responding to recent findings wherein, Fischer et al. (2013) report a risk rate based on EAT-26 scores in the range of 9.2% to 10.8% at BYU in comparison to the 15% they found reported in the literature using samples from other college campuses. Risk rates based on BSQ scores were reported in the 27.2% to 31.1% range, which was on par with a risk rate of 28.7% reported at a comparable university (Fischer et al., 2013). Fischer et al. (2013) conclude that while body shape concerns were estimated to be equal to or lower than reports at other universities, the level of eating disorder risk was not what would have been expected based on the estimates of other universities of the correlations normally found between EAT-26 and BSQ scores. This qualitative study investigated the experiences of 14 women who were identified as exhibiting high body shape dissatisfaction as determined by the Body Shape Questionnaire (BSQ) and did endorse having disordered eating attitudes or habits as determined by the Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26). The In-depth interviews and data analysis were conducted using an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis method and aimed at exploring the experiences of these women and what they believe keeps them healthy. Seven themes emerged from the data: Control, Social, Spiritual, Priorities, Exposure to Information, Avoidance, and Food Relationship. The first four themes were further conceptualized as having both a positive, or protective, impact and a negative, or counterproductive, impact on the participants. These four themes contributed to the participants overall Self-concept. The latter three themes, although likely having the same dual potential conceptualization were less compatible with an overall model despite being themes that were emphasized in the transcripts. The theme Control was further conceptualized to depict how the positive/protective impact functioned through a perception of choice and empowerment and how the negative/counterproductive impact functioned through a perception of no choice and disempowerment. Each of these possibilities yielded two potential outcomes for the participants, (a) enforce desired behaviors; or (b) do not enforce desired behaviors. What appears to be most protective against allowing body dissatisfaction to lead to disordered eating attitudes and behaviors is having a sense of self that is accepted by both oneself and by others. Ultimately, the results are a first step in the exploration of protective factors for women with a risk of developing an eating disorder. The results provide potential implications for future research and hint at potential clinical uses, both of which are discussed.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Counseling Psychology and Special Education



Date Submitted


Document Type





body image, disordered eating, control, spirituality, priorities, social, avoidance, food relationship, self-acceptance, BYU, religion, body shape questionnaire, eating attitudes test, interpretative phenomenological analysis, qualitative