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Body-related attentional bias as mediator of the relationship between body mass index and body dissatisfaction

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Bruno Porras-Garcia, Marta Ferrer-Garcia, Lena Yilmaz, Yigit O. Sen, Agata Olszewska, Alexandra Ghita, Eduardo Serrano-Troncoso, Janet Treasure, José Gutiérrez-Maldonado

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Eating Disorders Review
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2020

King's Authors


Body image disturbance, consisting of an affective (body dissatisfaction) and perceptual (body distortion) component, is not only found in eating disorders, but is also present in healthy individuals, affecting their psychological well-being and everyday life. A higher body mass index is associated with higher body dissatisfaction, whereas results in relation to body distortion are mixed. Furthermore, body dissatisfaction is associated with a weight-related attentional bias. This study aimed to investigate the mediating role of a weight-related attentional bias in the relationship between body mass index and body image disturbance. Forty-one college women took part in a virtual reality and eye tracking procedure, in which the illusion of owning a virtual avatar with their body measurements was induced. During this procedure, body-related attentional bias was measured and afterwards body image disturbance was assessed. Mediation analysis revealed that weight-related attentional bias mediated the relationship between body mass index and body dissatisfaction (but not distortion). These findings suggest that modifying weight-related attentional bias would be a useful treatment target for improving body dissatisfaction. In addition, virtual reality technology could serve as an innovative method for modifying attentional bias in an ecologically valid way. Highlights: This Virtual Reality and Eye-Tracking study expands our knowledge about the relation between body mass index, body-related attention and body image disturbances. The results suggest that attentional bias towards weight-related body parts mediates the relation between BMI and body dissatisfaction. On the contrary, the relation between BMI and body distortion was not significant.

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