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Keywords:

  • adolescent predictors;
  • eating disorders;
  • health problems;
  • environmental risks

Abstract

Objective

This study investigated early predictors for developing eating disorders by young adulthood in a community sample of women participating in a 22-year longitudinal study.

Method

Twenty-one women were identified at age 27 with lifetime full or partial eating disorders. These women were compared with 47 women with no history of eating disorders on predictive factors from three broad domains.

Results

The women with eating disorders had more serious health problems before age 5 and mother-reported anxiety-depression at age 9. At 15, mothers described them as having more behavior problems. Before age 15, families of the eating disorder group had more histories of depression, eating problems and changes in family financial circumstances.

Discussion

This study identifies early predictors distinguishing girls who develop eating disorders. Findings point to the need for continued research in the area of early health to comprehensively examine the biologic, behavioral, and environmental risks for eating disorders. © 2002 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 33: 1–9, 2003.