Psychotic experiences may be predictors for disordered eating in late adolescence, according to longitudinal study data published in The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health.

Researchers extracted data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, which assessed children for psychotic experiences at the age of 13. The researchers also captured any disordered eating behaviors using a postal questionnaire when study participants were age 18. Researchers constructed both univariate and multivariable regression models to explore the relationship between psychotic experiences and disordered eating in later adolescence.

Of 6361 children, 734 (12%) reported psychotic experiences at age 13. Per the crude model, psychotic experiences were associated with an increased risk for all disordered eating behaviors (odds ratio [OR], 1.92; 95% CI, 1.46-2.52) at age 18. Psychotic experiences also predicted an increased severity of disordered eating behaviors as measured by the number of behaviors (P <.0001). Adjustments for child and maternal demographic characteristics (OR, 1.82; 95% CI, 1.35-2.44), the presence of autistic traits at age 7 (OR, 1.80; 95% CI, 1.34-2.41), and greater body mass index (BMI) at baseline (OR, 1.83; 95% CI, 1.36-2.46) attenuated the association between psychotic experiences and disordered eating, although the relationship remained significant. Psychotic experiences were associated specifically with an increased risk for binge eating (OR, 2.23; 95% CI, 1.36-3.69), purging (OR, 1.88; 95% CI, 1.24-2.84), and fasting behaviors (OR, 2.25; 95% CI, 1.64-3.09), although each of these relationships was somewhat attenuated by the presence of depressive symptoms at baseline. No apparent association between psychotic experiences and excessive exercise or BMI was identified in any model.

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These data suggest the need for targeted interventions in children with psychotic experiences in order to prevent disordered eating behaviors in later adolescence. Future research is necessary to further elucidate the association between psychosis and disordered eating in order to improve the therapeutic interventions available for children with these risks.   


Solmi F, Melamed D, Lewis G, Kirkbride JB. Longitudinal associations between psychotic experiences and disordered eating behaviours in adolescence: a UK population-based study [published online June 21, 2018]. Lancet Child Adolesc Health. doi:10.1016/S2352-4642(18)30180-9