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Prevalence and risk factors for eating disorders in Indian adolescent females

Amit A Upadhyah, Rajesh Misra, Deepak N Parchwani, Pankaj B Maheria.

Cited by (2)

Background: Eating disorders (ED) are one of the most common psychiatric problems faced by adolescents, and are characterized by a persistent course, comorbid psychopathology, medical complications, and elevated mortality.

Aims & Objective: To assess the prevalence and correlates of eating disorders in a sample of adolescent Indian females.

Materials and Methods: In a cross-sectional survey, 120 adolescents females (age: 13-17 years) filled out questionnaires on eating attitudes and behaviors at one independent school. ED was measured with the 26-item Eating Attitudes Test (EAT). Participants who scored ≥ 20 on the EAT were considered to have disordered eating and effect of psychological, behavioral, and socio-environmental variables in individuals with and without eating disorders, were assessed.

Results: Disturbed eating attitudes and behaviors were present in 26.67 % of adolescents girls in the sample studied. This group was significantly older, had earlier menarche and lower BMI. Mean scores and percentage scores on all the scales to assess psychological risk factors were found to be significantly higher in the ED group i.e. there were significant associations (p< 0.0001) between elevated EAT scores and dieting behavior, higher drive for thinness and body dissatisfaction, external pressures, mood susceptibility of feeding patterns, perfectionism, occurrence of negative life events and presence and adequacy of emotional support system.

Conclusion: Eating disorders and subthreshold eating conditions are prevalent in a sample of adolescent girls and were strongly associated with various psychological, behavioral, and socio-environmental domains. Future prospective and experimental studies are warranted to advance our understanding of the risk factors to enable better preventive programme planning.

Key words: Adolescent Females; Eating Attitude Test; Eating Disorder; Psychological Risk Factors

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