Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 181-196

First online:

Three to Four Year Prospective Evaluation of Personality and Behavioral Risk Factors for Later Disordered Eating in Adolescent Girls and Boys

  • Gloria R. LeonAffiliated withUniversity of Minnesota
  • , Jayne A. FulkersonAffiliated withMinnesota Department of Human Services
  • , Cheryl L. PerryAffiliated withDivision of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota
  • , Pamela K. KeelAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Harvard University
  • , Kelly L. KlumpAffiliated with

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Findings of a 3- to 4-year prospective investigation of personality, temperament, and behavioral factors predictive of the later development of disordered eating in an adolescent population are presented. The sample consisted of 726 girls and 698 boys who entered the study in grades 7–10 in year 1 or in grade 7 in year 2. Predictors of eating disorder risk score were determined separately by gender. For both girls and boys, the latent variable of negative affect/attitudes determined at study entrance was the only significant predictor of final-year risk score. Semistructured diagnostic interviews confirmed an eating disorder diagnosis in 52.8% of 36 female subjects in the high eating disorder symptom group. A substantial history of lifetime and current comorbidity also was noted in this group. The function of negative affect/attitudes as a generalized psychopathology vulnerability factor and as a specific factor increasing risk for disordered eating is discussed.