Which dieters are at risk for the onset of binge eating? A prospective study of adolescents and young adults

Andrea B. Goldschmidt, Melanie Wall, Katie A. Loth, Daniel Le Grange, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Purpose: Dieting is a well-established risk factor for binge eating, yet the majority of dieters do not develop binge eating problems. The purpose of the current study was to examine psychosocial factors involved in the relation between dieting and binge eating over a 10-year follow-up period. Methods: A population-based sample (n = 1,827) completed surveys assessing eating habits, psychological functioning, and weight status at 5-year intervals spanning early/middle adolescence (time 1), late adolescence/early young adulthood (time 2), and early/middle young adulthood (time 3). Dieting, along with depression symptoms, self-esteem, and teasing experiences at time 1 and time 2, was used to predict new onset binge eating at time 2 and time 3, respectively. Interactions between dieting status and varying degrees of these psychosocial factors in relation to binge eating onset were also tested. Results: Dieters were two to three times more likely than nondieters to develop binge eating problems over 5-year follow-ups. At most time points, depression symptoms and self-esteem predicted binge eating onset beyond the effects of dieting alone. Detrimental levels of these factors among dieters (relative to nondieters) increased the likelihood of binge eating onset only during the later follow-up period. Conclusions: Depression and self-esteem appear to be particularly salient factors involved in the relation between dieting and binge eating onset among adolescents and young adults. Early identification of these factors should be a priority to prevent the development of binge eating problems among already at-risk individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)86-92
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The project described was supported by grant number R01HL084064 (D. Neumark-Sztainer, principal investigator) from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute . The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute or the National Institutes of Health. The authors have no conflicts of interest to report. The study sponsor was not involved in the study design; the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; the writing of the report; or the decision to submit the manuscript for publication. The first draft of this manuscript was written by Dr. Goldschmidt. None of the authors received an honorarium, grant, or other form of payment to produce the manuscript.

Copyright 2013 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Adolescent
  • Dieting
  • Negative affect
  • Self-esteem
  • Teasing
  • binge eating


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