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Eat Weight Disord. 2003 Jun;8(2):100-6.

Prevalence of abnormal eating behaviours and inappropriate methods of weight control in young women from Brazil: a population-based study.

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Department of Social Medicine, Universidade Federal de Pelotas, Brazil.



The aim of this epidemiological investigation was to study the prevalence of abnormal eating behaviours in a community sample of young women from Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil.


The research team visited 1524 randomly selected households in Porto Alegre and invited all of the women aged 12-29 years to participate in the study: 513 women subsequently completed a socio-economic and demographic questionnaire, the Bulimic Investigatory Test (BITE) and the Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26).


Clinically significant disturbed eating behaviour was revealed in the 16.5% of women who had EAT scores above the cut-off point of 21; 2.9% also had BITE symptom scores of > or = 20. The participants were categorised into three groups on the basis of a new variable combining both instruments: those with abnormal eating behaviours (10.9%), those with unusual eating patterns (23.8%), and those with normal eating behaviours (60.2%). Abnormal eating behaviours were significantly more prevalent in the 16-19 year age range (p = 0.007) and were also more prevalent among overweight/obese women (p = 0.009). Laxative use was reported by 8.5% of the women, followed by fasting (3.1%), use of diuretics (2.8%) and vomiting (1.4%).


Abnormal eating behaviours are fairly common among young women in Brazil. In comparison with other population studies, this survey showed a similar use of laxatives, less self-induced vomiting and a greater use of diet pills (probably because they are less strictly controlled in Brazil). Educational programmes aimed at preventing abnormal eating behaviours and developing healthy weight control practices among children and young adolescents should become public health priorities.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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