A risk model for preadolescent disordered eating

Jessica L. Combs, Carolyn M. Pearson, Gregory T. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Objective This study tested this risk model for disordered eating in preadolescent girls: pubertal onset is associated with increases in negative urgency (the personality tendency to act rashly when distressed); negative urgency influences eating disorder symptoms by shaping psychosocial learning (expectancy formation), thus indirectly influencing symptom levels; and many influences on purging are mediated by binge eating. Method Nine hundred five fifth grade girls completed questionnaire measures of eating pathology, negative urgency, and dieting/thinness and eating expectancies. Results Binge eating and purging behaviors were present in fifth grade girls. As anticipated, pubertal status was associated with higher levels of negative urgency, negative urgency was associated with each expectancy measure, quadratic dieting/thinness and eating expectancies were associated with binge eating, and binge eating was associated with purging. Discussion It is important and feasible to develop risk models for preadolescent eating disordered behaviors. Our model that integrates puberty, personality, and psychosocial learning appears promising.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)596-604
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Issue number7
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • learning
  • personality
  • preadolescent
  • puberty
  • risk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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