Disordered eating, self-esteem, and depression symptoms in Iranian adolescents and young adults: A network analysis

Reza N. Sahlan, Brenna M. Williams, Lauren N. Forrest, Jessica F. Saunders, Ellen E. Fitzsimmons-Craft, Cheri A. Levinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Objective: The network theory of psychopathology examines networks of interconnections across symptoms. Several network studies of disordered eating have identified central and bridge symptoms in Western samples, yet network models of disordered eating have not been tested in non-Western samples. The current study tested a network model of disordered eating in Iranian adolescents and college students, as well as models of co-occurring depression and self-esteem. Method: Participants were Iranian college students (n= 637) and adolescents (n = 1,111) who completed the Eating Disorder Examination-Questionnaire (EDE-Q), Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES) and Beck Depression Inventory, Second Edition (BDI-II). We computed six Glasso networks and identified central and bridge symptoms. Results: Central disordered eating nodes in most models were a desire to lose weight and discomfort when seeing one's own body. Central self-esteem and depression nodes were feeling useless and self-dislike, respectively. Feeling like a failure was the most common bridge symptom between disordered eating and depression symptoms. With exception of a few differences in some edges, networks did not significantly differ in structure. Discussion: Desire to lose weight was the most central node in the networks, which is consistent with sociocultural theories of disordered eating development, as well as prior network models from Western-culture samples. Feeling like a failure was the most central bridge symptom between depression and disordered eating, suggesting that very low self-esteem may be a shared correlate or risk factor for disordered eating and depression in Iranian adolescents and young adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)132-147
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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