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Eat Weight Disord. 2010 Mar-Jun;15(1-2):e60-7.

Assessment of eating behaviour in young women requesting nutritional counselling and their mothers.

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Section of Human Physiology and Nutrition, Department of Neurosciences, "Federico II" University Medical School, Via Pansini 5, 80131 Naples, Italy.



The aim of this study was to explore the influence of maternal eating behaviour on a clinical population of young women compared with a non-clinical one.


A group of 59 young women (age 16-30 yr) attending a weight-loss Clinic and their mothers (n=59; age 37-64 yr) were enrolled. They were compared with a group of female students (n=59; age 18-36 yr) and their mothers (n=59; age 41-67 yr). Body weight and height were measured and body mass index (BMI) calculated. Eating behaviour was assessed by using the Eating Disorders Inventory (EDI), Eating Inventory (EI) and Eating Attitude Test 26 (EAT-26).


The EDI-2 scales significantly different between the groups were drive for thinness, bulimia, body dissatisfaction, inadequacy, enteroceptive awareness and insecurity. The EI scales values were all different between the groups and consistently higher in the clinical populations. The differences between groups were even more striking for the EAT-26 scales; the clinical young women had the highest scores. The daughter-mother correlation for each scale in the clinical and non-clinical groups showed that the EDI-2 scales assessing eating behaviour, drive for thinness, bulimia and body dissatisfaction, were significantly related in the non clinical group but not in the clinical group. On the other side, the clinical group showed correlation for the scales assessing psychopathological traits such as perfectionism, interpersonal disrupt, enteroceptive awareness, impulsivity and insecurity. For EI scales the correlation was significant for disinhibition in the non clinical group. A correspondence was observed for dieting in the non clinical group and for food preoccupation in the clinical group. EDI-2, EI and EAT-26 scales assessing eating behaviour were strongly predictive of BMI in both groups.


Maternal eating behaviour influences the young women; in particular mothers-daughters of the clinical group showed some problems, for which they still had to grow up and stand out. Finally, the control population revealed some eating disorders as well.

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