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Seeing yourself clearly: self‐identification of a body image problem in adolescents with an eating disorder


Fatt, SJ and Mond, J and Bussey, K and Griffiths, S and Murray, SB and Lonergan, A and Hay, P and Pike, K and Trompeter, N and Mitchison, D, Seeing yourself clearly: self‐identification of a body image problem in adolescents with an eating disorder, Early Intervention in Psychiatry pp. 1-8. ISSN 1751-7893 (2020) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2020 John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd

DOI: doi:10.1111/eip.12987


Aim: Many adolescents who meet diagnostic criteria for an eating disorder do not selfidentify as having a problem and may consequently be less likely to seek help. Extant research investigating self-identification has been limited to specific populations (ie, girls meeting criteria for bulimic-type eating disorders). This study investigated how self-identification varied across sex, eating disorder diagnoses, and the presence of extreme eating behaviours, and how self-identification was related to help-seeking in adolescents.

Methods: Participants included 1002 Australian school students (75.5% female, Mage = 15.14 years, SD = 1.40) who met DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for an eating disorder. An online survey assessed self-identification of having a body image problem, as well as sex, eating disorder diagnosis, extreme eating behaviours, help-seeking for a body image problem, and other potential correlates of self-identification (demographics, psychological distress, social function, weight and shape concerns).

Results: Approximately, 2 in 3 adolescents with an eating disorder self-identified as having a body image problem. Girls who met criteria for a major eating disorder diagnosis, and those engaging in extreme eating behaviours, were more likely to selfidentify. When adjusting for covariates, only sex remained significantly associated with self-identification. Adolescents who self-identified were 2.71 times more likely to seek help for a body image problem, adjusting for covariates.

Conclusions: Public health strategies ought to promote awareness regarding the different ways that body image problems might manifest among both girls and boys, as well as the potential gravity of such problems. Awareness among parents, teachers and primary care providers should also be considered.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:adolescent, body image, early intervention, feeding and eating disorder, identification
Research Division:Psychology
Research Group:Cognitive and computational psychology
Research Field:Sensory processes, perception and performance
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Mental health
UTAS Author:Mond, J (Dr Jon Mond)
ID Code:140209
Year Published:2020
Web of Science® Times Cited:12
Deposited By:UTAS Centre for Rural Health
Deposited On:2020-07-31
Last Modified:2021-12-15

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