Disordered eating attitudes and behaviors in overweight youth

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2008 Feb;16(2):257-64. doi: 10.1038/oby.2007.48.


Disordered eating attitudes and behaviors appear to be quite common in youth, and overweight youth have been identified as a subset of the population at particularly high risk for endorsing such symptoms. Overweight and eating disorder (ED) symptomatology independently confer significant threats to one's physical and psychosocial health, showing strong links with body weight gain and risk for ED development. When concurrent, the risk for negative health outcomes may be compounded. The purpose of this article is to review the current state of the literature as it concerns disordered eating and its correlates in overweight children and adolescents. Extant literature on the prevalence, distribution, correlates, and etiology of disordered eating attitudes and behaviors (i.e., negative attitudes toward shape and weight, unhealthy weight control behaviors, and binge eating) in overweight youth is reviewed and consolidated in order to make assessment and treatment recommendations for healthcare providers. The current literature suggests that early detection of disordered eating in overweight youth should be a priority to provide appropriate intervention, thereby helping to slow the trajectory of weight gain and prevent or reduce the long-term negative consequences associated with both conditions. Future research should focus on explicating developmental pathways, and on developing novel prevention and treatment interventions for overweight youth exhibiting disordered eating patterns.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Body Image
  • Child
  • Feeding Behavior* / physiology
  • Feeding Behavior* / psychology
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / etiology
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / physiopathology
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Overweight* / physiopathology
  • Overweight* / psychology
  • Risk Factors