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29-07-2020 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 10/2020 Open Access

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 10/2020

Prospective Pathways to Depressive Symptoms and Disordered Eating in Adolescence: A 7-Year Longitudinal Cohort Study

Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 10/2020
Helena Lewis-Smith, Isabelle Bray, Debra Salmon, Amy Slater
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Eating pathology and depressive symptoms increase during adolescence, yet predictive pathways remain predominantly unexplored, despite their implications for prevention. The present study aimed to identify shared risk factors for eating pathology and depressive symptoms by evaluating an adapted Dual-Pathway Model of disordered eating, which postulated that higher BMI would predict disordered eating and depressive symptoms via pathways between body dissatisfaction, later BMI, depressive symptoms, and visible indicators of puberty (breast development for girls, height for boys). The participants were 8915 children (49% girls) from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, a population-based cohort study of British children, who were assessed at different intervals between the age of 7 to 14 years. Path analyses revealed that, for girls, childhood BMI exerted indirect effects on disordered eating via body dissatisfaction, depressive symptoms, and more advanced breast development, with indirect pathways identified to depressive symptoms via earlier depressive symptoms and more advanced breast development. For boys, childhood BMI had indirect effects on disordered eating via later BMI and body dissatisfaction, while only earlier depressive symptoms were found to have an independent and direct effect on adolescent depressive symptoms. This study reveals shared and independent risk factors for eating pathology and depressive symptoms in adolescence and suggests targets for preventative interventions, including higher BMI, body dissatisfaction, and depressive symptoms, in addition to advanced breast development, for girls.

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