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Keywords:

  • low birth weight;
  • eating attitudes;
  • weight perception;
  • weight dissatisfaction;
  • EAT-26, eating disorder;
  • risk factors;
  • adolescent females

Abstract

Objective:

Studies of clinically referred patients have implicated low birth weight (LBW) as a possible risk factor for eating disorders. This study examines eating attitudes and weight concerns in nonreferred LBW female adolescents.

Method:

274 LBW girls (mean age 15.9) belonging to a prospective regional LBW birth cohort completed the Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26) and items from the Eating Symptoms Inventory on weight perception and weight dissatisfaction.

Results:

Only 2.3% scored above threshold for eating disorder risk on the EAT-26. A total of 25% perceived themselves as overweight and 18.7% perceived themselves as underweight, while 63.4% desired to lose and 17.7% desired to gain weight. Girls who perceived themselves as overweight or desired to lose weight had higher mean EAT scores than those who did not.

Conclusion:

Nonreferred adolescent girls born at LBW are not, as a whole, at risk for abnormal eating attitudes and negative perceptions of their weight. © 2008 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 2008