OBJECTIVE. To assess whether weight-related teasing predicts the development of binge eating, unhealthy weight control behaviors, and frequent dieting among male and female adolescents. METHODS. A prospective study was conducted with an ethnically and socioeconomically diverse sample of 2516 adolescents who completed surveys at both time 1 (1998-1999) and time 2 (2003-2004) of the Project EAT (Eating Among Teens) study. RESULTS. In 1998-1999, approximately one fourth of participants reported being teased about their weight at least a few times a year. After adjustment for age, race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status (SES), and BMI, boys who were teased about their weight were more likely than their peers to initiate binge eating with loss of control and unhealthy weight control behaviors 5 years later. The predicted prevalence for incident binge eating behaviors with loss of control among boys who were teased was 4.1% as compared with 1.4% for those who were not teased, after adjustment for age, race/ethnicity, SES, and BMI. For unhealthy weight control behaviors at time 2, the predicted prevalence was 27.5% among boys who were teased and 19.3% for boys who were not teased, after adjustment for age, race/ethnicity, SES, and BMI. Girls who were teased were more likely than their peers to become frequent dieters. The predicted prevalence for incident frequent dieting among girls who were teased was 18.2% as compared with 11.0% for those who were not teased, after adjustment for age, race/ethnicity, SES, and BMI. CONCLUSIONS. Weight teasing in adolescence predicts disordered eating behaviors at 5-year follow-up. The patterns of these associations differ by gender. Reducing teasing through educational interventions and policies may reduce the level of disordered eating behaviors among youths.
- Eating disorders
- Longitudinal study