Risk Factors for Early Binge Eating and Purging

Early and later-onset disordered eating followed different risk factors.

Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
November/December Volume 25, Number 6
©2014 iaedp

Two factors emerged as risk factors for early onset of binge eating and purging: being female and being perceived as overweight by one’s parents at age 10. These were two findings from a recent study at the University of Western Australia, Crawley. In the first study to compare predictors of early and later-onset eating disorders in a single cohort over time, Dr. Karina L. Allen and co-workers evaluated 1,383 children from the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort Study. This study followed children prenatally until age 20. Eating disorders were assessed when participants were 14, 17, and 20 years of age (Int J Eat Disord 2014; 47:802).

The authors examined whether childhood risk factors for early-onset disorders, as identified in earlier studies, would also predict risk for later-onset disorders. As predicted, female gender and parent-perceived overweight when a child was 10 predicted binge eating and purging disorders later in adolescence. Eating, weight, and shape concerns at age 14 also predicted later-onset disorders, while child-perceived overweight at age 10 did not.

Thus, there is some consistency in risk factors for binge eating and purging disorders of early and later onset, but childhood experiences may have more impact for early-onset eating disorders than for later-onset disorders.

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