Being Bullied Increases Risk for Eating Disorders

the Psychiatry Advisor take:

Being bullied in childhood may increase one’s risk of developing eating disorder later on.

William Copeland, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, N.C., and colleagues, analyzed interviews from the Great Smoky Mountain Study, which contains more than 20 years of health data on participants who have been followed since age nine. In all, 1,420 children were studied.

Those who were bullied were almost twice as likely to have symptoms of bulimia compared to those who weren’t bullied, the researchers reported in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

Subjects were put into one of four groups: Children with no instances of bullying; victims of bullying; children who were victims and instigators; and children who were bullies, but were never victims of bullying.

Nearly 28% of children who were bullied had experienced symptoms of bulimia, compared to 17.6% if those who weren’t bullied. For anorexia, the figures were 11.2% and 5.6%, respectively.

However, children who were both victims and bullies themselves had the highest prevalence of anorexia (22.8% vs. 5.6% not involved in bullying), as well as binge eating (4.8% vs. less than 1% not involved in bullying).

Interestingly, bullying seems to have an effect on eating disorders for bullies themselves: 30.8% of them had bulimia symptoms compared to 17.6% not involved in bullying.

Being Bullied Increases Risk for Eating Disorders
Those who were bullied were almost twice as likely to have symptoms of bulimia compared to those who weren’t bullied.

Those who are bullied in childhood can have an increased risk for a variety of mental health issues including anxiety, depression, and even eating disorders.

Surprisingly, researchers discovered it's not only the victims who could be at risk psychologically, but also the bullies themselves.

Researchers at Duke Medicine and the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Medicine found that in a study of 1,420 children, those who bullied others were twice as likely to display symptoms of bulimia, such as bingeing and purging, when compared to children who are not involved in bullying.

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