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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Minnesota: Risk Factors for Adolescent Binge Eating Vary By Family Socioeconomic Status

Binge eating is prevalent across socioeconomic status (SES) groups in the United States, but researchers don’t know if risk factors for the disorder, such as dieting, vary by group. A new study involving University of Minnesota School of Public Health (SPH) researchers and data examined the prevalence of several binge eating risk factors among adolescents of different economic backgrounds and found they do indeed vary from group-to-group.

The study was recently published in The International Journal of Eating Disorders and led by PhD student Ms. Caroline West at Kent State University.

SPH professor, Dr. Dianne Neumark-Sztainer co-authored the study, which used data from her long-running Project EAT (Eating and Activity in Teens) study examining the eating and health behaviors of thousands of adolescents as they mature into adulthood.

The study found that among high-SES adolescents, binge eating was linked to higher weight status, body dissatisfaction, dieting, and episodes of family weight-related teasing.

Among adolescents from low-SES backgrounds, the risks for binge eating were linked to higher weight status, dieting, and reported instances of food insecurity.

“There are a lot of implications for providers who might see adolescents from lower-income communities,” said Ms. West. “While it’s still important to provide them with typical care and resources for treating binge eating, it’s also important to address issues, such as food insecurity, that might be salient in that population by connecting patients with food assistance programs, such as SNAP or WIC.”

As for those from a higher-SES background, Ms. West said it is important to target body dissatisfaction among adolescents in that group as well as dieting behaviors in all socioeconomic populations.

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