Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 40, Issue 12, pp 980–987

Eating disorders

Prevalence and risk profile among secondary school students
  • Agustín Tomás Vega Alonso
  • María Ángeles Rasillo Rodríguez
  • José Eugenio Lozano Alonso
  • Gloria Rodríguez Carretero
  • Manuel Franco Martín
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00127-005-0996-9

Cite this article as:
Vega Alonso, A.T., Rasillo Rodríguez, M.Á., Lozano Alonso, J.E. et al. Soc Psychiat Epidemiol (2005) 40: 980. doi:10.1007/s00127-005-0996-9

Abstract

Background

Eating disorders (EDs) are an important public health problem in developed countries. Despite the amount of epidemiological studies and causal theories, there is a great disparity of estimates and many questions remain still unclear. The aim of this study was to estimate the prevalence of the population at risk of developing EDs and describe the risk profiles among adolescents and young people.

Methods

A transversal design using a two-stage cluster sample of secondary education students aged between 12 and 18 years was used. The survey consisted of a socio-demographic questionnaire along with the Eating Attitudes Test (EAT)-40 index and was carried out between May and June 1999.

Results

Results showed that 7.8% of the secondary school population had a high risk of developing eating disorders (EAT-40 higher than 30). Females presented a higher percentage [12.3%; 95% confidence limits (CL) 10.4–14.3%] than males (3.2%; 95% CL 2.1–4.2%) at the highest risk levels. A decreasing risk gradient was observed with age.

Conclusions

The estimates show an important difference between the risk in females and in males and suggests that the risk is incremented above all in the last few years of infancy and the first years of adolescence, when these boys and girls are more vulnerable to socio-cultural influences and do not yet have defined image and “behaviour models”.

Key words

eating disordersEAT-40 indexprevalencerisk

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Agustín Tomás Vega Alonso
    • 1
    • 2
  • María Ángeles Rasillo Rodríguez
    • 1
  • José Eugenio Lozano Alonso
    • 1
  • Gloria Rodríguez Carretero
    • 3
  • Manuel Franco Martín
    • 1
  1. 1.Council for Health and Social WelfareJunta de Castilla y LeónValladolidSpain
  2. 2.Dirección General de Salud Pública y ConsumoConsejería de SanidadValladolidSpain
  3. 3.Universitary Hospital of Valladolid, Service of PsychiatryValladolidSpain