Study Ties Teen Eating Disorders to Increased Risk of Suicides

First Posted: Jul 23, 2013 04:13 AM EDT

A latest paper published in the journal Prevention Science, associates teen eating disorders to an increased risk of suicide.

The new study conducted on African American girls states that those who undergo anxious and depressive symptoms are often dissatisfied with their body types and are more likely to indulge in binge eating behaviors.

This study was conducted by Dr. Rashelle Musci and colleagues from the Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University.

According to the study researchers, those who display binge eating behavior are actually at an increased risk of considering suicide as they turn their emotions inward.

In the western culture, a lot of emphasis is put on appearance and it is not surprising to note that numerous young girls and women suffer from eating behavior problems. Binge eating was something most girls resorted to when disturbed, the study noted. This kind of behavior often leads to further distress, shame and embarrassment.

For this study, the team evaluated how depressive and anxious symptoms may be a factor in binge eating and suicidal behavior. They conducted a study on 313 black females between the ages of 6 and 17 and followed them for 11 years.

To examine the level of anxiety, depression, views on their physical appearance and eating disorders, the researchers conducted interviews with teachers, parents and the child. They also kept a track of those who reported suicidal tendencies when the study was conducted.

They noticed that girls who were dissatisfied with their physical appearance often suffered from both depressive and anxious symptoms in adolescence. This in turn led to binge eating. Those adolescent girls who displayed more binge eating behavior reported a greater number of suicide attempts.

"The relationships found in this study offer prevention scientists a unique opportunity to target individuals at high risk of psychiatric problems by intervening in the case of binge eating problems. Our results also support the importance of developing prevention programs that are culturally relevant to individuals," the researchers conclude.

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