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Teens' Self-Esteem, Peer Status Tied to Later Eating Disorders

Findings based on longitudinal evaluation at ages 11, 13, and 22 years

young girls

TUESDAY, May 29, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Self-perception of attractiveness and peer status in early adolescence are significant predictors of eating disorders in young adults, according to a study published online April 27 in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

Frédérique R.E. Smink, M.D., Ph.D., from the Parnassia Psychiatric Institute in The Hague, Netherlands, and colleagues evaluated longitudinal data from 732 peer-nominated participants in the TRAILS (TRacking Adolescents' Individual Lives Survey) cohort who completed measures of self-perception at age 11 and eating pathology at age 22 (57.8 percent female).

The researchers found that self-perceived physical attractiveness at age 11 and peer popularity at age 13 were inversely correlated with eating pathology at 22 years. Likeability by peers at age 13 was positively related to later eating pathology.

"Both self‐perceptions and peer status in early adolescence are significant predictors of eating pathology in young adults," the authors write. "Specific measures of self-esteem and peer-perceived status may be more relevant to the prediction of eating pathology than a global measure of self-esteem."

Abstract/Full Text

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