Eating disorders may persist in adulthood

ADOLESCENTS who have abnormal eating behaviours including dieting are at risk of continued problems in early adulthood, a population-based, longitudinal study shows.

US researchers who followed more than 2200 teens (55% female) found the prevalence of dieting and unhealthy behaviours such as binge eating remained constant over 10 years.

Extreme weight control behaviours increased significantly as the cohort aged, among girls from 8.4% at around age 13 to 20.4% at around age 23.

In individuals, tracking of potentially harmful eating behaviours suggested their use “was not just a phase”, the researchers said.

Dr Anthea Fursland, principal clinical psychologist of the eating disorders service at the Centre for Clinical Interventions, Perth, said 25% of her patients were aged over 30 years.

GPs may discourage parents from putting children on diets or cutting out sugar altogether, she said.