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Body Composition, Eating Behavior, Food-Body Concerns and Eating Disorders in Adolescent Girls

Boschi V. · Siervo M. · D’Orsi P. · Margiotta N. · Trapanese E. · Basile F. · Nasti G. · Papa A. · Bellini O. · Falconi C.
Department of Neuroscience and Behaviour, Dietetic and Nutrition Section, Faculty of Medicine, University ‘Federico II’, Naples, Italy Ann Nutr Metab 2003;47:284–293 (DOI:10.1159/000072401)


Aims: Dieting is a behavioral phenomenon which is becoming more frequent among adolescents and the search for weight loss, through dieting, may result in an unbalanced nutrition both quantitatively and qualitatively. Our study intended to look at the eating habits and behavior on a cohort of adolescent girls to verify the presence of unbalanced diets and the prevalence of eating disorders with particular attention to the partial syndromes (EDNOS). Methods: A cross-sectional double-stage study was carried out on a group of schoolgirls in the suburbs of Naples. We assessed anthropometrical measures, body composition (skinfolds and bioimpedance analysis), dietary intake by means of 3-day food records and we administered the Eating Disorder Inventory 2 and Psychosocial Factor Risk Questionnaire. A multidisciplinary and double-stage approach had been used to get a better diagnosis of eating disorders in our sample. Results: 156 adolescent girls, 14–18 years old, took part in our study. Height, weight, and BMI were 160.38 cm, 58 kg and 22.6, respectively. Analysis of food intake showed that all the values reported, with the exception of lipids and sodium, were below the recommendations by LARN. We observed a prevalence of 1.28% of bulimia nervosa, 1.28% of binge eating, and 10.25% of eating disorders not otherwise specified. EDI 2 and PRFQ confirmed how important drive for thinness and body dissatisfaction dimensions are when we deal with adolescent girls and with the phenomenon of dieting. The study confirmed the validity of the PRFQ questionnaire to evaluate mass media influence on body perception and eating behavior of adolescents. Conclusion: Multidisciplinary and well-designed studies are needed to systematically and accurately study eating habits and behavior of adolescents to tackle more efficiently the increasing spread of eating disorders and obesity.


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