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Eur Eat Disord Rev. 2012 Jul;20(4):279-86. doi: 10.1002/erv.1151. Epub 2011 Aug 25.

Subtyping children and adolescents who are overweight based on eating pathology and psychopathology.

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  • 1Department of Developmental, Personality and Social Psychology, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.


Children and adolescents who are overweight can differ on dimensions measuring dietary restraint and psychopathology. Classifying clinical obese children and adolescents based on these psychological characteristics is shown to be useful in making differential prognoses. The present study aimed to research the validity of subtyping children and adolescents with overweight (N = 138) in a non-clinical sample. Using cluster analysis, results revealed three subtypes: a dietary restraint/internalizing group (DR + IN; n = 41), a pure internalizing group (IN; n = 20) and a non-symptomatic group (NS; n = 77). The DR + IN group outscored both other groups on measures of eating pathology, whereas the IN group outscored both other groups on measures of negative offect. Interestingly, the three groups did not differ on degree of overweight. The results seem to suggest that different psychological mechanisms can be observed in subgroups of young overweight adolescents. Further research should explore how individual psychological characteristics can be helpful when stipulating weight loss treatment programmes.

Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and Eating Disorders Association.

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