Objectives: Research has linked eating disturbances with behavioral impulsivity. Little is known, however, about whether eating disturbances and aggressive behavior have a tendency to co-occur in the same girls. This article assesses the eating disturbance-aggressive behavior association and then examines the extent to which these factors confer a risk on drug use and attempted suicide.
Method: Survey data were gathered from 3,630 girls in grades 6 through 12 in the upper Midwest. Girls responded anonymously to questions regarding binge eating and purging, dietary restriction, aggressive behavior, drug use, and attempted suicide. Logistic regression analysis was used to assess the unique contribution of demographic variables, eating disturbances, and aggression on drug use and attempted suicide.
Results: Eating disturbances were significantly associated with aggressive behavior. Girls who endorsed binge eating and purging or dietary restriction had odds of aggressive behavior 2 to 4 times higher than girls who did not endorse these items. Logistic regression revealed that eating disturbances and aggressive behavior were significantly associated with both drug use and attempted suicide.
Conclusions: Eating disturbances are significantly associated with aggressive conduct in adolescent girls. The constellation of eating disturbances and aggressive behavior is associated with a greater risk of drug use and attempted suicide.