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J Consult Clin Psychol. 2008 Oct;76(5):887-92. doi: 10.1037/a0012783.

Are body dissatisfaction, eating disturbance, and body mass index predictors of suicidal behavior in adolescents? A longitudinal study.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, MN 55454-1495, USA.


Disordered eating, body dissatisfaction, and obesity have been associated cross sectionally with suicidal behavior in adolescents. To determine the extent to which these variables predicted suicidal ideation and attempts, the authors examined these relationships in a longitudinal design. The study population included 2,516 older adolescents and young adults who completed surveys for Project EAT-II (Time 2), a 5-year follow-up study of adolescents who had taken part in Project EAT (Time 1). Odds ratios for suicidal behaviors at Time 2 were estimated with multiple logistic regression. Predictor variables included Time 1 extreme and unhealthy weight control behaviors (EWCB and UWCB), body dissatisfaction, and body mass index percentile. Suicidal ideation was reported by 15.2% of young men and 21.6% of young women, and suicide attempts were reported by 3.5% of young men and 8.7% of young women. For young women, suicidal ideation at Time 2 was predicted by Time 1 EWCB. The odds ratio for suicide attempts was similarly elevated in young women who had reported EWCB at Time 1. These odds ratios for both suicidal ideation and suicide attempts remained elevated even after controlling for Time 2 depressive symptoms. In young men, EWCB was not associated with suicidal ideation or suicide attempts 5 years later. Body mass index and body dissatisfaction did not predict suicidal ideation or suicide attempts in young men or young women. These results emphasize the importance of EWCB.

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