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Psychosocial adjustment in young adulthood of women who experienced an eating disorder during adolescence.

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  • 1Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, USA.



To examine the impact of an adolescent eating disorder on psychosocial adjustment in young adulthood.


A randomly selected sample of high school girls was assessed on a wide array of psychosocial and diagnostic variables twice during adolescence (n = 891, n = 810), and a stratified subset (n = 539) was assessed during their 24th year. Based on their history of psychopathology before age 19, participants were categorized into (1) partial- or full-syndrome eating disorder (ED; n = 36); (2) non-comorbid major depressive disorder (MDD; n = 95); (3) non-mood disorder without ED or MDD (NMD; n = 64); and (4) no disorder (ND; n = 138).


Discriminant function analysis identified a single significant function (variance = 57%) in which the ED group was significantly elevated (mean = 0.87, SD = 1.20) compared with the other three groups; the MDD (mean = 0.14, SD = 1.00) and NMD (mean = 0.17, SD = 0.99) group means were intermediary and differed from the ND group (mean = -0.40, SD = 0.95).


Despite apparent recovery of ED symptoms among most ED cases, women with a history of adolescent ED evidenced significant impairments in health, self-image, and important areas of social functioning. These findings underscore the clinical significance of adolescent ED.

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