Disordered Eating Isn’t Just a Phase

Eating disorders often starts in the teenage years

(RxWiki News) Dieting and eating disorders don’t become problems overnight. It’s important to find out when these problems arise, because future generations can be influenced by unhealthy eating patterns.

Researchers are looking into the prevalence and effects of disordered eating behaviors in adolescents. The findings can be vital to updating and improving prevention, identification and treatment interventions.

"Early dieting behaviors continue into adulthood."

Researchers from the University of Minnesota conducted a 10-year study that tracked the eating behaviors of 2,287 individuals from adolescence into young adulthood. The study included two groups: a younger group who had an average age of 13 years and an older group with an average age of 16.

Data was collected on dieting, extreme weight control behaviors like fasting (not eating for long periods of time), using food substitutes and skipping meals, along with binge eating.

The researchers found that dieting in girls from both groups remained somewhat constant. Boys in the older group dieted significantly more as they aged from middle adolescence to middle young adulthood. Both groups showed significant increase in extreme weight control behaviors as they aged.

These results show that adolescents who have unhealthy dieting or eating disorders are not just going through a phase – adolescents who are practicing unhealthy eating are more likely to continue to do so into young adulthood or longer.

These findings suggest that prevention, detection and treatment for disordered eating behaviors need to start at younger ages and monitored into young adulthood, concludes Dianne Neurmark-Sztainer, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., Professor of Division of Epidemiology and Community Health at the University of Minnesota.

The research is published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Review Date: 
June 27, 2011