Button, E.J., Sonuga-Barke, E.J.S., Davies, J. and Thompson, M.
A prospective study of self esteem in the prediction of eating problems in adolescent girls: questionnaire findings
British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 35, (2), .
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A number of authors have emphasized the importance of self-esteem in the aetiology of the eating disorders anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Evidence for such theorizing, however, mainly derives from clinical observations on people being treated for eating disorders. This study is the first prospective study to investigate the role of self-esteem in aetiology prior to the onset of an eating disorder. Self-esteem was measured in 594 schoolgirls aged 11-12 using the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (Rosenberg, 1965). Almost 400 of these girls were successfully followed up at age 15-16 and they completed a questionnaire examining eating and other psychological problems. Results showed that girls with low self-esteem at age 11-12 were at significantly greater risk of developing the more severe signs of eating disorders, as well as other psychological problems, by the age of 15-16. It is argued that more research is needed to replicate and extend these findings. The results also give weight to the case for examining the potential role of self-esteem enhancement in the prevention of eating disorders
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