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Abnormal eating attitudes in London schoolgirls — a prospective epidemiological study: outcome at twelve month follow-up

  • G. C. Patton (a1), E. Johnson-Sabine (a1), K. Wood (a1), A. H. Mann (a1) and A. Wakeling (a1)...

The occurrence and course of eating disorder in a large representative population of 15-year-old London schoolgirls has been assessed using a two-stage survey methodology. Attempts to control weight were common and often transient. Dieting was in the great majority of girls found to be a benign practice without progression to more extreme concerns about food and weight. However, a small proportion of dieters did become cases and formed the majority of new cases found at follow-up. The relative risk of dieters becoming cases was eight times that of non-dieters. Many factors conventionally associated with eating disorder were associated more with attempting weight control than caseness. These included pre-morbid personality, pre-morbid obesity and family weight pathology. Other factors, including social class, career choice and psychosexual development, had no association either with attempting weight control or caseness.

Corresponding author
1Address for correspondence: Dr G. C. Patton, Academic Department of Psychiatry, Royal Free Hospital, Pond St., London NW3 2QG.
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Psychological Medicine
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