Time trends in eating disturbances in young Greek migrants

Authors


Abstract

Objective

The study intends to measure time trends in eating disorder psychopathology in Greek adolescents in Veria (Greece) and migrant Greek adolescents in Munich (Germany). For this purpose, large samples of students were assessed at both locations in the 1980s and about two decades later. Our research question was whether the frequency of eating disorder-related psychopathology had changed over time and that there were differences between migrants and nonmigrants. The present-day prevalence of eating disorders in the Greek population was established.

Method

Greek adolescents were assessed in Munich and Veria in the 1980s (N = 2,631) and almost two decades later (N = 2,920). At both times, the Anorexia Nervosa Inventory for Self-Rating (ANIS) was used to assess eating disorder pathology and the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-28) was used to assess mental health status. In the second wave, persons at risk for an eating disorder were interviewed using the Structured Interview for Anorexic and Bulimic Syndromes (SIAB-EX).

Results

At both times and both locations, adolescent girls in comparison to boys had higher, more pathologic scores on the GHQ-28 and on all ANIS self-rating subscales. Females in Munich reported an increase over time in figure consciousness and their fear of negative effects of meals. In the 1980s, significantly higher scores of bulimic behavior were found in Veria as compared with Munich. In the second wave, bulimic behavior was considerably decreased in Veria for both girls and boys, and for bulimic behavior no significant differences were found between locations. The percentage of girls with a low body weight (<5th percentile) increased significantly over time in Veria and Munich. In the second wave, the current prevalence for girls with anorexia nervosa was 0.00% in Munich and 0.59% in Veria (lifetime 1.26% and 1.18%, respectively). For bulimia nervosa, current prevalence was 1.89% in Munich and 1.18% in Veria.

Conclusion

Differences between locations diminished over time. Bulimic syndromes are prevalent in both locations. © 2005 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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