A model examining the associations of potential risk factors playing a role in the development of dieting and other unhealthy eating behaviors was proposed and tested using linear structural relationships in order to define risk groups and prepare an educational prevention program for high school students. Personal and socioenvironmental variables were included in the model. The overall predictive value of the model was high, with 65% of the variance in eating behaviors explained by personal and socioenvironmental variables. Body/self-image was a strong predictor of both dieting (r = .64) and binging (r = .54), while nutritional knowledge and attitudes was a strong predictor of nutritional intake (r = .42). The effect of socioenvironmental factors on behaviors was less than expected and was primarily via their effect on personal factors. The model, while comprehensive enough to explain a significant percentage of the variance in disturbed eating patterns, is also simple enough to allow for empirical testing in other populations and guide in the planning of educational programs aimed at the primary prevention of dieting and unhealthy eating patterns.
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