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Keywords:

  • drive for thinness;
  • dieting;
  • gender differences;
  • age differences

Abstract

Objective:

To examine associations between peer dieting and drive for thinness (DT) in men and women of three age groups and to compare rates of perceived vs. reported peer dieting.

Method:

Data came from an epidemiological study in which surveys were completed by women (n = 1,468) and men (n = 592) from three age groups: late adolescent (mean ± SD age: 20.0 ± 1.6 years), adult (30.0 ± 1.6), and midlife (40.1 ± 2.0).

Results:

Significant associations were found between perceived peer dieting and DT in women and men. For women, associations were strongest in late adolescents for same-sex peers. Associations in men did not differ by age group or peer sex. Expected gender differences in the strength of associations were not found. Reported dieting occurred at or below rates perceived for peers.

Conclusion:

Results may partially account for why DT has been found to decline with age in women, but not men. Longitudinal research is needed to support cross-sectional findings. © 2007 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 2008