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Disordered eating in a 10-year perspective from adolescence to young adulthood: Stability, change, and body dissatisfaction as a predictor.

  • Foster, Lo1
  • Lundh, Lars-Gunnar1
  • Daukantaité, Daiva1
  • 1 Department of Psychology, Lund University, Lund, Sweden. , (Sweden)
Published Article
Scandinavian Journal of Psychology
Wiley (Blackwell Publishing)
Publication Date
Feb 01, 2024
DOI: 10.1111/sjop.12950
PMID: 37491950


Although there are many studies of disordered eating (DE) in adolescence, studies examining the longitudinal stability and change of DE and its longitudinal associations with other factors are still rather scarce. Such studies are important to inform parents and clinicians how stable DE is and to what extent it will go away with increased maturity. Longitudinal studies may also be of help in establishing predictors of long-term problems. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the stability of DE over a 10-year period from early adolescence to young adulthood, and to explore body dissatisfaction as a predictor in a 10-year perspective. Data were taken from a three-wave longitudinal project (SoL) with survey data collected among the students in Grades 7and 8 in a Swedish municipality in 2007 (T1), 1 year later (T2), and in a 10-year follow-up in 2017 (T3). DE was measured by the eight-item version of the Risk Behaviour Related to Eating Disorders (RiBED-8), and a quasi-clinical criterion of six or more critical answers on the RiBED-8 was used to classify DE cases. Of the girls, 5.8% passed the cutoff for DE at T1, whereas 9.1% did so at T2 and 7.9% at T3. The boys showed markedly lower figures: 0.5% both at T1 and T2, and 1.5% at T3. There was significant individual stability of DE over the 10-year period, with almost 30% of the girls who passed the cutoff for DE at T1 also doing so 10 years later. Body dissatisfaction in early adolescence predicted the incidence of new cases of DE 10 years later, even when controlling for degree of DE in early adolescence. The results also indicate that DE in early adolescence may be a passing phase among adolescents who express relatively high body satisfaction. The present results show a complex picture of different individual trajectories of DE, with degree of body satisfaction playing a significant role for the outcome in a 10-year perspective. Body dissatisfaction appears to be a risk factor for the development of new cases of DE, whereas body satisfaction may protect against the continuation of DE into adulthood. © 2023 The Authors. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology published by Scandinavian Psychological Associations and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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