, Volume 13, Issue 5, pp 287-294

Risk factors for eating disorders in adolescents

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Abstract.

Objective:

The aim of this study was to identify psychopathological, social and family variables that, measured at the age of 13, might predict the development of eating disorders 2 years later, using a standardized interview and controlling the effect of initially abnormal eating behavior.

Method:

At age 13 and 15, 1076 adolescents completed questionnaires for the screening of psychiatric morbidity, abnormal eating attitudes and family dysfunction. Probable cases of eating disorders [159] and 150 controls were assessed with standardized interviews (SCAN).

Results:

Controlling the effect of previous eating psychopathology, pathological body dissatisfaction, measured with the Body Shape Questionnaire (BSQ), and a negative perception of parental attitudes were predictors of eating disorders 2 years later. Self-esteem was a protective factor for body dissatisfaction.

Conclusions:

Preventive actions should focus on self-esteem as a protective factor for body dissatisfaction, a strong predictor for eating disorders. The significance of family perception should be explored more in detail in future research.