Eating Disorder Risk Factors Vary with Gender and Age

June 3, 2008

The risk factors for eating disorders such as binge eating and purging are different for boys and girls, and change from one age group to another in females, according to the results of a study published in the June issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

TUESDAY, June 3 (HealthDay News) -- The risk factors for eating disorders such as binge eating and purging are different for boys and girls, and change from one age group to another in females, according to the results of a study published in the June issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Alison E. Field, of Children's Hospital Boston, and colleagues conducted a study of 6,916 girls and 5,618 boys aged 9 to 15 years at baseline who were followed-up for seven years to check for any onset of binge eating or purging using laxatives or vomiting.

Binge eating was observed in 4.3 percent of females and 2.1 percent of males, while 5.3 percent of females and 0.8 percent of males began to purge, the investigators found. Having a mother with a history of an eating disorder almost tripled the risk for girls but only up to the age of 14. Frequent dieting and striving to look like a particular media personality were risk factors for all girls, while for boys, negative comments about weight from fathers predicted at least weekly binge eating.

"Although males are less likely than females to develop disordered eating,parents and clinicians should be aware that negative comments about weight can have serious consequences such as making young males more likely to start binge eating frequently," the authors write.

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