Disordered eating and the transition to college: A prospective study




A longitudinal study was conducted to examine whether the transition to college changed eating disorder symptoms and related attitudes.


Participants were 342 women who completed an in-depth survey in the spring of their senior year of high school and again during their first year of college. We assessed changes in body self-perception, eating-related attitudes, and disordered eating classification (nondieter, dieter, problem dieter, subclinical eating disordered, or eating disordered on the basis of criteria for bulimia nervosa in the 4th ed. of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).


Although participants viewed themselves as significantly heavier in their first year of college, dieting frequency and disordered eating classification in college did not differ from high school assessment.


Evidence from this study indicates that disordered eating symptoms and attitudes are established before college. However, our findings also reveal that poor self-image, dieting behaviors, and eating disorder symptoms are common among many young women, both before and during college. © 2001 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 29: 280-288, 2001.