Unhealthy weight control behaviours in adolescent girls: a process model based on self-determination theory

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Colleges, School and Institutes


This study used self-determination theory (Deci, E.L., & Ryan, R.M. (2000). The 'what' and 'why' of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11, 227-268.) to examine predictors of body image concerns and unhealthy weight control behaviours in a sample of 350 Greek adolescent girls. A process model was tested which proposed that perceptions of parental autonomy support and two life goals (health and image) would predict adolescents' degree of satisfaction of their basic psychological needs. In turn, psychological need satisfaction was hypothesised to negatively predict body image concerns (i.e. drive for thinness and body dissatisfaction) and, indirectly, unhealthy weight control behaviours. The predictions of the model were largely supported indicating that parental autonomy support and adaptive life goals can indirectly impact upon the extent to which female adolescents engage in unhealthy weight control behaviours via facilitating the latter's psychological need satisfaction.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)535-550
Number of pages16
JournalPsychology and Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010


  • parental autonomy support, psychological need satisfaction, body image concerns, life goals