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Risk factors and prodromal eating pathology

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Prospective studies have identified factors that increase risk for eating pathology onset, including perceived pressure for thinness, thin-ideal internalization, body dissatisfaction, dietary restraint, and negative affect. Research also suggests that body dissatisfaction and dietary restraint may constitute prodromal stages of the development of eating disorders. Prevention trials indicate that interventions that reduce pressure to be thin, thin-ideal internalization, body dissatisfaction, and negative affect significantly reduce eating disorder symptoms. Further, there is evidence that selective prevention programs that target young women at elevated risk for eating pathology by virtue of thin-ideal internalization, body dissatisfaction, and negative affect produce significant larger intervention effects than do universal programs offered to unselected populations. Thus, research on risk factors and prodromal stages of eating pathology has assisted in the design of efficacious prevention programs and the identification of high-risk individuals to target with these interventions; additional research in this area may lead to even more effective prevention programs.
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Keywords: Eating disorder; prodrome; risk factors

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2010

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