Developing risk factor profiles for anorexia and bulimia nervosa in young adults

Thumbnail Image
Sewell, Tracey
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Recent research has shown that weight concerns begin at a very early age. Marchi and Cohen (1990) found that a significant number of young children had levels of eating disorder symptoms high enough to be of concern. They also found that children were at risk of showing parallel problems in later childhood and adolescence. As well it has been shown that an estimated 2% to 3% of post pubertal girls and women suffer from eating disorders, and an additional 5% to 10% may have "subclinical" eating disorders. In an attempt to develop a profile of those individuals at risk for developing an eating disorder (anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa), 625 male and female undergraduate students from the University of Manitoba were given a number of questionnaires relating to family environment, self-esteem, depression, sex-role identification, body shape and eating attitudes and behaviors. Logistic regression procedures were used with three eating disorder measures in an attempt to determine the most succinct model for predicting correlates of risk for developing an eating disorder. Results indicated university attending females were at greater risk for developing an eating disorder than university attending males, however, males were also susceptible. Variables significant to each of the three measures varied, as did the predictive power (chi-square value) of each model. Variables such as self-esteem were more directly related to eating disorder outcome than variables such as age. Body shape dissatisfaction was highly correlated with eating disorders, and had both a mediating and moderating effect depending on the outcome measure used.