Negative body image is a well-documented predictor of future disordered eating behaviors, including dieting, which is a primary predictor of weight gain and eating disorder development. Disordered eating behaviors tend to emerge in early adolescence around the time of puberty. Our bodies go through so much change at that time, accumulating both height and weight in response to signals from the pituitary gland to secrete hormones. The average female gains approximately 40 pounds between ages 10-16, and another 20 pounds from ages 16-20 (Herrin 2007, Parent’s Guide to ED’s). This is a lot to adjust to for a child who is already trying to navigate the nuances of their peer group at that age when fitting in feels like the utmost importance. Hormones are rapidly changing during puberty as well, with the average onset of menses at 13 years old, yet another stressful change for a young woman to adapt to. The surge of female hormones also produces changes in mood, skin complexion, body fat accumulation and distribution, body odor, and more. It is easy to see why disordered eating behaviors become a coping mechanism when there’s so much change going on in the body.
+ view comments . . .