EDRS 2019
Abstract Media influence as a predictor of children’s body image and eating problems: A longitudinal study in 8-11 -year old boys and girls
Jolien De Coen1, Lien Goossens 1, Sandra Verbeken1
1Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium/2Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium/3Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium

Purpose: Body image problems are reported during middle childhood and associated with exposure to appearance-focused media. Most studies in children are cross-sectional and do not determine possible moderators. The present study aimed to investigate whether awareness, internalization and pressure of media ideals predict body image and eating problems in children and whether sex moderates this effect. Methods: We investigated a total sample of n=601 participants (52 % boys, aged 8-11). Self-report questionnaires were administered on media influence and body image and eating problems at T1 and T2 (1 year later). Results: After controlling for age, adjusted body mass index and baseline levels of body image and eating problems, results show that media influence significantly predicted restraint and concerns about eating, weight and shape one year later. For both awareness and internalization, sex did not moderate the effect on body image and eating problems. In contrast, significant interactions were found between sex and pressure in predicting eating concerns. Conclusion: Awareness and internalization of media ideals plays a role in the development of body image and eating problems in both boys and girls. Perceived pressure of media ideals, however, only predicts increases in body image and eating problems in girls. This indicates that media influence affect girls and boys differently. Future research is necessary to unravel these sex specific vulnerabilities.