My body is a temple : eating disturbances, religious involvement and mental health among young adult women
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A growing body of literature outlines the undesirable health consequences of eating disturbances. However, little attention has been given to the possible mitigating effects of cultural institutions, such as religion, in the lives of women suffering from such pathologies. In this study, I contribute to this gap by asking, "What is the relationship between eating disturbances, religious involvement and mental health?" I address this question by: (a) outlining a series of arguments linking eating disturbances, specific aspects of religious involvement, and mental health; (b) identifying several distinct hypotheses from this discussion; and (c) empirically testing these relevant hypotheses with a nationally representative sample of young adult women in the US. I find that various aspects of religious involvement mitigates the deleterious effects of eating disturbances on depression and self-esteem, lending support for the moderating (buffering) model. I conclude by identifying the limitations of the present study and by suggesting promising directions for future research.