Association between puberty and disordered eating, body image, and other psychological variables

Diann M. Ackard, Carol B Peterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: To examine associations between puberty and disordered eating, body image, and other psychological variables. Method: Females were grouped into three categories of age at puberty onset (Study 1; N = 267) as well as three categories of self-perception of prepubertal weight (Study 2; N = 222). Participants in both studies were matched on current body mass index (BMI) across categories. Results: Females who perceived themselves to be overweight prior to puberty scored significantly higher on measures of disordered eating, body dissatisfaction, asceticism, drive for thinness, impulse regulation, interoceptive awareness, and perfectionism. They also perceived their current body figure to be larger when compared with those who believed they were average or underweight prior to puberty. Age at puberty onset was not significantly associated with disordered eating, body dissatisfaction, depression, or self-esteem. However, females who entered puberty at an earlier age scored higher on measures of asceticism, drive for thinness, impulse regulation, and social insecurity. They also chose a more slender ideal body figure than those who entered at an older age. Discussion: Females who believe they are overweight prior to puberty may be at risk for the development of disordered eating, body image dissatisfaction, and related problems. Age at puberty onset is not a consistent risk factor of pathological eating.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-194
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Volume29
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 28 2001

Keywords

  • Body image
  • Eating disorders
  • Puberty

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