Adolescent Eating Disorders in a Sociocultural Context

by Thurfjell, Barbro

Abstract (Summary)
Adolescence means an increased risk for eating disorders (ED) and the female gender is the most important risk factor. Empirical studies of the perceptions of gender ideals—as potential mediating factors between the socio-cultural context and ED—were this thesis’ primary goals. Further aims implied evaluating the psychometric properties of the Eating Disorders Inventory for Children (EDI-C) and providing normative data for boys and girls concerning self-assessed ED symptoms and related psychological traits.The EDI-C has satisfying psychometric properties, and normative data are now provided. The vast majority of preadolescent and adolescent boys and girls (n=4725) are not preoccupied with weight concerns, but 1–3% of the boys and 9–20% of the girls here indicate feelings of anxiety and problematic attitudes. An increase of self-reported ED symptoms occurs during female preadolescence and early adolescence. Responses to three open-ended questions—addressing perceived and personal gender ideals of adolescent boys (n=347) and girls with (n=204) and without (n=417) an ED—indicate that girls are, compared to boys, more involved in images of ideals. The perceived ideal man and ideal woman differ in body size and strength. This corresponds with different health risk behaviours reported in boys (body building) and girls (dieting). Awareness of media ideals and an ability to discriminate them from individual values was common in the normal groups and in girls who had recovered from an ED. A poor outcome was associated with thinness stated as ideals of the media, without mentioning good looks. Factors that could predict outcome at the 3-year follow-up of an ED in adolescent girls were: good looks (media ideal), maturity fears, profession (individual ideal), sexual debut, and vomiting.The addition of a gender perspective would add a dimension to programmes aiming at preventing and treating ED in adolescence.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Uppsala universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation

Keywords:MEDICINE; Psychiatry; Child and adolescent psychiatry; Child and adolescent psychiatry; Adolescent psychiatry; Eating disorders; Adolescents; Gender; Ideals; Outcome; Sociocultural; Barn- och ungdomspsykiatri


Date of Publication:01/01/2005

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