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Int J Eat Disord. 1997 Jan;21(1):39-47.

Self-esteem, eating problems, and psychological well-being in a cohort of schoolgirls aged 15-16: a questionnaire and interview study.

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  • 1Leicestershire Mental Health Service Trust, United Kingdom.



This study aimed to investigate the extent of eating problems and their association with self-esteem in girls aged 15-16.


Six hundred and nine schoolgirls aged 15-16 completed a questionnaire examining eating behavior, self-esteem, and general psychological well-being. A subsample of 31 girls was subsequently interviewed in terms of eating behavior and self-esteem.


The questionnaire findings revealed that 56% of girls felt too fat and had used some form of weight control strategy. In addition, 32% scored above the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) threshold for anxiety and 43% reached the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale criterion for low self-esteem. Interviews confirmed that those showing abnormal eating behavior in the questionnaires did indeed show greater eating pathology as well as lower self-esteem. Interviews also revealed that those with high levels of eating concern showed greater levels of global self-dissatisfaction and higher dissatisfaction with their physical appearance and family relationships.


The results suggest that preventative interventions targeted at girls with low self-esteem may be appropriate.

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