Data from a community-based longitudinal investigation were used to investigate whether adolescents with eating disorders are at an elevated risk for physical and mental disorders during early adulthood.
Psychosocial and psychiatric interviews were administered to a representative community sample of 717 adolescents and their mothers from 2 counties in the state of New York in 1983, 1985 to 1986, and 1991 to 1993. In 1983, the mean age of the youths was 13.8 years.
Adolescents with eating disorders were at a substantially elevated risk for anxiety disorders, cardiovascular symptoms, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, depressive disorders, limitations in activities due to poor health, infectious diseases, insomnia, neurological symptoms, and suicide attempts during early adulthood after age, sex, socioeconomic status, co-occurring psychiatric disorders, adolescent health problems, body mass index, and worries about health during adulthood were controlled statistically. Problems with eating or weight during adolescence predicted poor health outcomes during adulthood, regardless of whether an eating disorder had been present. Only 22% of the adolescents with current eating disorders had received psychiatric treatment within the past year.
Eating disorders during adolescence may be associated with an elevated risk for a broad range of physical and mental health problems during early adulthood.