A Risk Model for Disordered Eating in Late Elementary School Boys

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The authors tested the following risk model for disordered eating in late elementary school-age boys: Pubertal status is associated with increases in negative urgency, that is, the tendency to act rashly when distressed; high levels of negative urgency then influence binge eating through psychosocial learning; and binge eating influences purging. A sample of 908 fifth-grade boys completed questionnaire measures of puberty, negative urgency, dieting/thinness and eating expectancies, and eating pathology. Eating disorder symptoms were present in these young boys: 10% reported binge eating and 4.2% reported purging through self-induced vomiting. Each hypothesis in the risk model was supported. Boys this young do in fact engage in the maladaptive behaviors of binge eating and purging; it is crucial to develop explanatory risk models for this group. To this end, it appears that characteristics of boys, including their pubertal status, personalities, and psychosocial learning, help identify boys at risk.

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