Childhood body mass index and development of eating disorder traits across adolescence

Eur Eat Disord Rev. 2018 Sep;26(5):462-471. doi: 10.1002/erv.2612. Epub 2018 Jun 21.


Objective: Understanding the role of premorbid body mass index (BMI) in the emergence of eating disorders may be key to identifying effective prevention strategies. We explore relations between BMI and eating disorders traits in young twins.

Method: The effect of BMI at age 9/12 and 15 on eating disorder traits measured using the Eating Disorders Inventory-2 (EDI) at ages 15 and 18 was examined using bivariate modelling in a longitudinal population sample of Swedish twins.

Results: The correlation between BMI and EDI within individuals was stable across all ages and remained significant after adjusting for later BMI. Bivariate analysis indicated significant positive genetic correlations between BMI ages 9/12 and 15 and subsequent EDI scores. The relationship remained significant for BMI age 9/12 and EDI age 15 in the adjusted model, indicating a longitudinal association.

Conclusion: Our results have implications for conceptualizing the interrelation of BMI and eating disorders across childhood and adolescence.

Keywords: BMI; adolescence; childhood; eating disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Twin Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Child
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / etiology*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders of Childhood / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Pediatric Obesity / complications
  • Pediatric Obesity / psychology*
  • Personality Inventory / statistics & numerical data*
  • Population Surveillance / methods*
  • Sweden
  • Twins