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Epidemiological research suggests racial differences in the presentation of eating disorder symptoms. However, no studies have examined associations between race and eating disorder symptom trajectories across youth and adolescence, which is necessary to inform culturally sensitive prevention programs. The purpose of the current study was to examine the trajectories of eating disorder symptoms from childhood to young adulthood and to examine whether race was associated with trajectory group membership. Data were drawn from 2,305 Black and White girls who participated in a community-based longitudinal cohort study (Pittsburgh Girls Study) examining the development of psychopathology. The child and adult versions of the Eating Attitudes Test assessed self-reported eating disorder symptoms at six time points between ages 9 and 21 years. Growth mixture modeling was used to examine developmental trajectories of dieting, bulimia/food preoccupation, and total eating disorder symptom scores. Given potential confounds with race and disordered eating, financial strain (i.e., receiving public assistance) and weight were included as covariates. Four to six distinct developmental patterns were found across eating disorder symptoms, including none, increasing, decreasing, or increasing-decreasing trajectories. Black girls had a greater likelihood of being in the decreasing trajectories for dieting, bulimia/food preoccupation, and total eating disorder symptom scores. White girls were more likely to follow increasing trajectories of dieting and total eating disorder symptom scores compared to Black girls. These results highlight the importance of examining the influence of racial background on eating disorder symptoms and the potential need for differences in the timing and focus of prevention interventions in these groups.
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- Associations between Race and Eating Disorder Symptom Trajectories in Black and White Girls
Lindsay P. Bodell
Jennifer E. Wildes
Andrea B. Goldschmidt
Alison E. Hipwell
Stephanie D. Stepp
- Springer US