Body-image and eating disturbances prospectively predict increases in depressive symptoms in adolescent girls: a growth curve analysis

Dev Psychol. 2001 Sep;37(5):597-607. doi: 10.1037//0012-1649.37.5.597.


Using data from a longitudinal community study (N = 231), the authors tested whether body-image and eating disturbances might partially explain the increase in depression observed in adolescent girls. Initial pressure to be thin, thin-ideal internalization, body dissatisfaction, dieting, and bulimic symptoms, but not body mass, predicted subsequent increases in depressive symptoms, as did increases in these risk factors over the study. There was also prospective support for each of the hypothesized mediational relations linking these risk factors to increases in depressive symptoms. Effects remained significant when other established gender-nonspecific risk factors for depression (social support and emotionality) were statistically controlled. Results provide support for the assertion that body-image and eating disturbances, operating above and beyond gender-nonspecific risk factors, contribute to the elevated depression in adolescent girls.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Image*
  • Depression / diagnosis*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Depression / therapy
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Social Support
  • Somatoform Disorders / diagnosis
  • Somatoform Disorders / psychology
  • Temperament