, Volume 13, Issue 5, pp 287-294

Risk factors for eating disorders in adolescents

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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.


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).


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.


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.