Eating Problems in Adolescents and Youths: Explanatory Variables

Span J Psychol. 2016 Nov 17:19:E81. doi: 10.1017/sjp.2016.74.


This study had the following goals: (1) to analyze the differences between participants with and without risk of eating disorders (ED) in self-esteem, happiness, depression, anxiety, anger, and psychological variables related to ED; (2) to determine possible differences in the group at risk of ED on these variables as a function of sex; and (3) to determine which variables explain the risk of ED. Eight assessment instruments were administered to 1.075 participants (74.6% without risk of ED and 25.4% at risk). The results confirmed: (1) Significant differences such that the without-risk group scored higher on self-esteem and happiness, and lower on depression, anxiety, anger, ED-related variables, and perceived weight (large effect size: η2 = .49; r = .70); (2) Within the at-risk group, males scored higher on body self-esteem, general self-esteem, and anger-state, while females scored higher on perceived weight, state-trait depression, state-trait anxiety, inefficiency, interoceptive awareness, and asceticism (large effect size: η2 = .31; r = .56); and (3) The explanatory variables in both sexes were: for drive for thinness - perceived weight, inefficiency, and impulsivity; for bulimia - body self-esteem; and for body dissatisfaction - inefficiency, perceived weight, anxiety-trait, and happiness. The study provides relevant variables for designing ED prevention and/or treatment programs.

Keywords: adolescence; eating disorders; explanatory variables sex; youth.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anger
  • Body Image / psychology*
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology*
  • Female
  • Happiness
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Self Concept*
  • Sex Factors
  • Young Adult