Defense Date


Graduation Date

Summer 2007


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



School Psychology


School of Education

Committee Chair

Tammy L. Hughes

Committee Member

Alison Hipwell

Committee Member

Carol S. Parke

Committee Member

Jeffrey A. Miller


Body Image Dissatisfaction, Childhood-Onset Eating Disorders, Children, Loneliness, Prevalence, Risk Factors, Social Competence, Victimization/Teasing


Since the 1950s, epidemiological studies have shown a steady increase in the number of children and adolescents with eating disorders (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2003). Moreover, Anorexia Nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness (Sullivan, 1995). Historically, eating disorders were believed to occur predominantly in Caucasian adolescent and adult females from middle to upper socio-economic status (SES). Presently, studies are beginning to include more diversified samples and are discovering the presence of maladaptive eating behaviors. The current longitudinal study utilized a large community sample of girls who were assessed at age 9 and again at age 10. Further, the study examined a more racially and economically diverse sample than typically assessed in the eating disorder literature. First, the study examined the prevalence and stability of body image dissatisfaction and eating disturbance and whether they vary by racial group or SES. Secondly, the study investigated whether Body Mass Index (BMI) and body image dissatisfaction predict later eating disturbance. Lastly, the study examined whether social competence difficulties, feelings of loneliness, and victimization by peers predict later eating disturbance after controlling for BMI and body image dissatisfaction. Results indicate that 11% of the sample scored in the Anorexic range at age 9 and 7% at age 10. Body image dissatisfaction was endorsed by 35% of the sample at age 9 and 38% at age 10. Further, the frequencies of numerous maladaptive eating behaviors are reported. Children had higher mean eating disturbance scores at age 9 than at age 10. Subjects from the Minority group had higher eating disturbance scores at both ages than the Caucasian group. There was no difference between the SES groups on eating disturbance or body image dissatisfaction. Finally, BMI, racial group, body image dissatisfaction, social competence, and victimization by peers were found to be significant predictors of eating disturbance. Implications of the findings and directions for future research are offered.