Eating Attitudes and Behaviours in Young People With or Without a Diabetic Sibling
Smith, Rachel K
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Objectives: Body image concerns and problematic eating attitudes and behaviours are recognised as an important concern for young people and clinicians. Identification of groups that might be at risk of developing such problems would enable prevention and early implementation strategies to be implemented. The aim of this study was to explore body image concerns and eating attitudes and behaviours in a community sample of young people aged between 12 and 17 years. Design & Method: A cross sectional between groups design was employed. Participants completed self-report assessments measuring attitudes to body shape and weight, eating attitudes, behavioural features of eating disorders and eating disorder psychopathology. Siblings of young people with type 1 diabetes (n=12) were compared to a matched control group (n=12). Comparisons were also made between males and females and between age groups in a community sample (n=75). Results: Compared with females without a diabetic sibling, females with a diabetic sibling reported more concerns about body weight and shape, greater disturbance in eating attitudes, and significantly higher levels of eating disorder psychopathology. Within the community sample, concerns about body shape and weight and disturbed eating attitudes were significantly higher in females than in males. The results highlighted a high prevalence of excessive exercise behaviour in both males and females. Excessive exercise was the only variable to differ significantly between age groups, with the highest prevalence reported in those aged 14 and 15 years. Conclusions: The findings provide tentative support for the hypothesis that siblings of young people with type 1 diabetes are at increased risk of disturbed eating attitudes and behaviours, but require replication in a larger sample. Methodological implications of the study and suggestions for further research are discussed.