The perceived onset of dieting and loss of control eating behaviors in overweight children

Authors

  • Marian Tanofsky-Kraff PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Unit on Growth and Obesity, Developmental Endocrinology Branch, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, Maryland
    • Unit on Growth and Obesity, Developmental Exdocrimology Branch, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, CRC, Room 1-3330, 10 Center Drive, MSC 1103, Bethesda, MD 20892-1103
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  • Dara Faden BA,

    1. Unit on Growth and Obesity, Developmental Endocrinology Branch, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, Maryland
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  • Susan Z. Yanovski MD,

    1. Unit on Growth and Obesity, Developmental Endocrinology Branch, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, Maryland
    2. Division of Digestive Diseases and Nutrition, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, Maryland
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  • Denise E. Wilfley PhD,

    1. Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri
    2. Portions of this manuscript were presented at the 2003 International Conference on Eating Disorders, Denver, Colorado, May 29–June 1.
    3. Supported by Z01-HD-04-00641 (J.A.Y.) and by the National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities (J.A.Y.).
    4. Dr. Jack A. Yanovski is a Commissioned Officer in the U.S. Public Health Service, Department of Health and Human Services.
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  • Jack A. Yanovski MD, PhD

    1. Unit on Growth and Obesity, Developmental Endocrinology Branch, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, Maryland
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Abstract

Objective

The current study investigated the self-reported temporal relationships of dieting, binge eating, and overweight in childhood.

Method

One hundred five non–treatment-seeking overweight children ages 6–13 years were interviewed with the children's Eating Disorder Examination (ChEDE) and queried regarding dieting, loss of control (LOC) eating, and overweight history. Questionnaires of depressive symptoms, trait anxiety, and parent-reported problems were completed.

Results

Sixty percent of the children reported having attempted at least one diet. These children had higher ChEDE scores (global, p < .001), greater body mass index (BMI) and body fat mass (p ≤ .001), and a trend towards an earlier reported age of overweight onset (p = .06) compared with children who had never dieted. The 29.5% of children who reported LOC eating had significantly higher ChEDE scores (global, p < .001), ineffectiveness, negative self-esteem, and externalizing scores (all ps < .05) compared with those who had never experienced LOC eating. Most children reported becoming overweight before either dieting (79.4%) or experiencing LOC eating (63.6%). Among the 25.7% reporting both dieting and LOC eating, two thirds reported LOC eating before dieting. Participants who reported dieting before overweight had higher negative mood scores (p < .01). Children reporting dieting before LOC eating had higher ChEDE Weight Concern (p < .01) and global (p < .05) scores.

Discussion

For overweight, non–treatment-seeking children, both dieting and LOC eating are common. Dieting precedes the development of LOC eating only one third of the time, but is associated with greater disordered eating cognitions. The relationship between childhood-onset dieting and LOC eating in overweight children requires further investigation to determine the causal pathways for the subsequent development of eating disorders. © 2005 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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