Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Suzanne Mazzeo


The current investigation used qualitative methodology to examine adolescent girls’ perceptions of control over their eating, as well as triggers, and consequences of binge and related eating behaviors. Focus groups were completed with 19 adolescent girls (aged 13-17, 58% African American, 41% White) who endorsed the behaviors. Responses to focus group questions were qualitatively analyzed using a grounded theory approach and constant comparison coding. Results reflected a fundamental lack of awareness of the loss of control (LOC) eating behaviors. Yet, the data did reflect a central theme of the need to affirm independence and autonomy through eating behaviors via three distinct pathways; asserting physical, emotional, and relational control with food. Each strategy produces different positive and negative consequences regarding emotions and physical sensations. This study suggests that adolescent need for autonomy interacts with a sense of feeling out of control of one’s external environment and insufficient coping mechanisms may increase susceptibility to maladaptive eating behaviors.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2012