Objective: To identify shared risk and protective factors for purging, binge eating, and overweight.
Design: Prospective cohort study.
Setting: Population-based questionnaires of children and adolescents residing across the United States.
Participants: Girls (n = 6022) and boys (n = 4518), aged 11 to 17 years in 1998, in the ongoing Growing Up Today Study.
Main exposures: Putative risk and protective factors within the psychological, behavioral, and socioenvironmental domains.
Main outcome measures: Overweight, use of laxatives or purging (vomiting), and binge eating. Because of the low prevalence of purging, we did not examine shared factors for this behavior among boys.
Results: In 1998, a total of 219 girls (3.7%) and 30 boys (0.7%) reported purging behaviors, 426 girls (7.1%) and 90 boys (2.0%) reported binge eating, and 1019 girls (17.4%) and 1040 boys (24.6%) were overweight. From 1999 through 2001, 331 girls (7.8%) initiated purging behaviors, 503 girls (11.8%) and 132 boys (4.5%) initiated binge eating behaviors, and 424 girls (10.0%) and 382 boys (13.6%) became overweight. Concern for weight was directly associated with all 3 weight-related problems among boys and girls. Among girls, dieting, parental weight-related teasing, and family meal frequency had a shared effect on the weight-related problems examined.
Conclusions: Factors within the psychological, behavioral, and socioenvironmental domains may have a shared effect on purging, binge eating, and overweight. Further research is needed to determine if an intervention designed to address these shared risk and protective factors is effective in simultaneously reducing these weight-related problems.