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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 1680-5348Print version ISSN 1020-4989


MARTINEZ, Martha Betzaida Altamirano; LAMOTTE, Barbara Vizmanos  and  SANTONCINI, Claudia Unikel. Continuum of risky eating behaviors in Mexican adolescents. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2011, vol.30, n.5, pp.401-407. ISSN 1680-5348.

OBJECTIVE: Determine the relationship between the variables of self-esteem (SE), body dissatisfaction (BD), and body mass index (BMI) in a continuum of risky eating behaviors (REB) that ranges from normal behavior to the risk of eating disorders (ED), thus facilitating early detection of adolescents with ED symptomatology and the degree to which such variables have an influence. METHODS: A total of 1 982 young women aged 15-19 were selected through stratified random sampling. Self-esteem (Pope, McHale, and Craighead scale), body dissatisfaction (Stunkard's Figure Rating Scale), and body mass index were measured. A brief REB questionnaire was administered. Three categories of REB were defined: no risk, moderate risk, and high risk. A multiple regression analysis was performed. RESULTS: A direct relationship was found between risk of REB and BD, with significant differences between the groups (P < 0.001): no risk (83.6% of sample), 54.1% had BD; moderate risk (11.9% of sample), 84.8% had BD; and high risk (4.5% of sample), 89.9% had BD. There were significant differences in SE and BMI only between the group with no risk and each of the risk groups. Self-esteem played a role in predicting REB in all the regression models evaluated, whereas BMI did not. CONCLUSIONS: It is essential to identify adolescents at moderate risk of REB who have prodromic features of ED such as low SE and BD. When these features occur simultaneously, they can mediate a negative effect of BMI on REB

Keywords : Eating behavior; adolescent health; self esteem; body mass index; body image; risk factors; obesity; overweight; Mexico.

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