Six out of ten British 13-year-old girls are afraid of gaining or getting fat, compared to four in ten boys of the same age, and these feelings can lead to behaviors associated with eating disorders.
An examination of data from the University of Bristol’s Children of the 90s study showed teenage girls think and worry about their weight more than boys of the same age. One-quarter of the girls surveyed said they had restricted their food intake over the last three months, compared to only 17 percent of boys. The results also showed behaviors associated with eating disorders, like fasting or bingeing, occur much more frequently at this age than previously thought.
“Most importantly, we found a connection with certain behaviors and higher weight two years later, which has important public health implications for the prevention of obesity,” study lead Dr. Nadia Micali was quoted as saying. “We are far from being able to identify boys and girls who have unhealthy weight control behaviors and binge-eating early, but this is crucial to prevent full-blown eating disorders and other negative social and emotional problems.”