Background: This study explores cross-sectional associations between yoga and body image, mindful eating, disordered eating, and muscle-enhancing behaviors among a population-based sample of ethnically/racially diverse emerging adults. Method: An ethnically/racially diverse population-based sample of 1,568 emerging adults (18–26 years) completed surveys as part of EAT 2010–2018 (Eating and Activity over Time). Models were adjusted for sociodemographic characteristics and body mass index (BMI). Results: Practicing yoga at least 30 min/week was reported by 12.7% (n = 210) of the sample. Yoga practitioners had higher levels of mindful eating than those not practicing yoga. Although effect sizes were small, yoga practitioners were more likely than non-yoga practitioners to use steroids (3.8 vs. 0.7%, p <.001, h = 0.22) or protein powder/shakes (35.1 vs. 25.3%, p <.010, h = 0.21) to increase their muscle size/tone. Body satisfaction, unhealthy weight control behaviors, and binge eating tended to be similar among yoga practitioners and non-yoga practitioners. There was a significant interaction between BMI and yoga in predicting body satisfaction with a trend toward a positive impact among yoga practitioners at higher BMI values. Interactions between yoga practice and all body image attitudes and behaviors across gender and ethnicity/race were not statistically significant. Discussion: Young people from diverse ethnic/racial backgrounds who practice yoga are more likely to engage in mindful eating but have equal or elevated levels of unhealthy body image attitudes and behaviors as compared to non-yoga practitioners. Further research should explore how yoga is best taught and practiced to ensure that it is beneficial for body image and related behaviors.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute through grant numbers R01HL127077 and R35HL139853 (PI: D. Neumark‐Sztainer). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the National Institutes of Health.
- body image
- eating disorders
- young adults
PubMed: MeSH publication types
- Journal Article