A Path Analysis of Body Mass Index, Body Image, and Unhealthy Dietary Behavior as Contributors to Suicidal Behavior in Female Adolescents

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2004-05-01

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Rorie, Michele Taylor

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Rorie, Michele Taylor, A Path Analysis of Body Mass Index, Body Image and Unhealthy Dietary Behavior as Contributors to Suicidal Behavior in Female Adolescents. Doctor of Public Health (Social and Behavioral Sciences), May 2004, 120 pp., 17 tables, 6 illustrations, references, 106 titles. Objectives- This study examined the pattern and magnitude of relationships between body mass index, body image, unhealthy dietary behaviors, and suicidal behavior among a sample of White, African American, and Hispanic adolescent females. Methods-This study employed secondary analysis of the 2001 Youth Risk Behavior Survey public-use dataset to provide quantitative estimates of the causal connections between body mass index, body image, dietary behaviors, and suicidal behavior. A sample (n=5,218) of White, African American, and Hispanic adolescent females aged 14-17 were selected for analysis. This cross-sectional study involved public high school students in grades 9-12. The variables/constructs BMI, Body Image, and Dietary Behavior were examined using a path analysis to determine the magnitude of effects on Suicidal Behavior in adolescent females. Results- The path coefficients were obtained for the path model using multiple regression equations, which took direct and indirect effects into account. The Female Adolescent Model (n= 5,218) yielded an R2 = .27. This meant that 27% of the variance in Suicidal Behavior was explained by BMI, Body Image, and Dietary Behavior. When race/ethnicity was analyzed separately, different values were observed. The White Adolescent Female Model (n=2,768) had an R2=.32. The Black or African American Model (n=1,206) had an R2=.23, and the Hispanic or Latino Model (n=1,224) had an R2=.27. Conclusion- The basic state of what is an actual fact about a person (i.e. weight) does not cause an increase of harmful or destructive behavior. The person’s beliefs drive intention as it was demonstrated through the immergence of significant indirect pathways from BMI through Body Image and Dietary Behavior to Suicidal Behavior. The path analyses for the three racial groups suggest that there are varying degrees of influence among BMI, Body Image, Dietary Behaviors, and Suicidal Behaviors.

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