Purpose: Food preferences, eating patterns, and physical activity patterns were examined in a cohort of adolescent females and males participating in a longitudinal study of the developmental antecedents of eating disorders. Methods: All adolescents (n = 1494) in grades seven through ten in an entire school district completed a survey about their dieting behaviors, eating, and exercise patterns. Results: Principal components analysis showed similar factor structures for food preferences and eating patterns among males and females. Gender differences were present in physical activity patterns. Sports participation was correlated with healthy food preference and was a significant predictor of eating disorders symptoms. Junk food preference was marginally inversely related to eating disorders symptoms in females. Preference for other types of foods and reported intake of foods were not related to eating disorders symptoms. The percent of variance in risk score accounted for by dietary intake and physical activity patterns was small. Conclusions: Psychological and social/environmental variables may explain a larger proportion of the variance in eating disorders risk than the dietary and physical activity variables examined in this study. Implications for understanding the etiology and behavioral expression of eating disorders are discussed.
- Eating disorders Dietary intake Physical activity Dieting