Eating disorder risk behavior in Brazilian adolescents from low socio-economic level

Julia Elba de Souza Ferreira, Gloria Valeria da Veiga
Appetite 2008, 51 (2): 249-55
We investigated the prevalence, by gender, age and nutritional status, of eating disorder (ED) risk behavior, using a simplified self-report questionnaire in a probabilistic sample of 561, 12-19-year-old students from public schools in the metropolitan area of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Sex- and age-specific body mass index cut-offs were used to assess nutritional status. The prevalence of overweight/obesity was 16.2% and of being underweight was 2.5%; 37.3% of the adolescents studied presented symptoms of binge eating (BE) and 24.7% would go on a strict diet at least once a week, both cases more frequent in females (40.8% vs. 25.3%; 31.2% vs. 10.5%, respectively). Older students were shown to be more susceptible to binge eating and younger students more susceptible to strict dieting. Overweight adolescents were shown to be more susceptible to strict dieting than normal-weight adolescents, regardless of sex and age. The prevalence of binge eating and strict dieting was high in low-income Brazilian adolescents and females are at greater risk of developing eating disorders than males. The greater prevalence of strict dieting in younger students shows they are at nutritional risk.

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