Weight teasing experienced during adolescence and young adulthood: Cross-sectional and longitudinal associations with disordered eating behaviors in an ethnically/racially and socioeconomically diverse sample

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE: This study assessed cross-sectional and longitudinal relationships between weight teasing and disordered eating in an ethnically/racially and socioeconomically diverse sample of young people and examined these relationships across sociodemographic characteristics.

METHOD: The EAT 2010-2018 study surveyed adolescents (n = 1,534) in the Minneapolis/St. Paul public schools (mean age = 14.4 years) and 8 years later (mean age = 22.2 years).

RESULTS: Weight teasing was prevalent in adolescence (34.1%) and young adulthood (41.5%). In analyses adjusted for sociodemographic characteristics and body mass index, weight teasing was cross-sectionally associated with a higher prevalence of all disordered eating behaviors during both adolescence and young adulthood. For example, 64.5% of young adults who reported being teased about their weight engaged in unhealthy weight control behaviors, compared with 47.9% among those not teased (p < .001). There were fewer observed associations in longitudinal analyses, although weight teasing still predicted prevalent overeating and both prevalent and incident dieting (incident dieting-teased: 48.4% vs. not teased: 38.0%, p = .016). Weight teasing and disordered eating were more prevalent among Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) young people and those from low socioeconomic backgrounds, and the relationship between weight teasing and disordered eating was similar across ethnic/racial, socioeconomic, and gender demographic groups.

DISCUSSION: Results indicate that weight teasing is strongly correlated with disordered eating in both adolescence and young adulthood regardless of ethnicity/race, socioeconomic status, or gender. Finding suggest that future research and policy interventions should address weight stigma and prioritize the needs of BIPOC young people and young people from low socioeconomic backgrounds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1449-1462
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Volume54
Issue number8
Early online dateMay 10 2021
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by grant numbers R01HL127077 and R35HL139853 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (PI: Dianne Neumark‐Sztainer). Laura Hooper's time was supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (grant number: T71MC00006‐40‐00, PI: Renee Sieving) and the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, grant numbers TL1R002493 and UL1TR002494. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the National Institutes of Health, or the Health Resources and Services Administration.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Wiley Periodicals LLC.

Keywords

  • adolescent
  • bias
  • eating behavior
  • eating disorders
  • health disparities
  • preventive medicine
  • weight teasing
  • young adult

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