Reprinted from Eating Disorders Review
November/December 2011 Volume 22, Number 6
©2011 Gürze Books

At the Obesity Society meeting in Orlando, FL, in early October, Dr. Kendrin Sonneville of Children's Hospital, Boston, described the results of her 11-year follow-up study of overweight adolescent girls. Girls who said they were fairly satisfied or totally satisfied with their bodies had 61% lower odds of meeting criteria for an eating disorder compared with girls who were only slightly dissatisfied or completely dissatisfied with their body image.

The girls satisfied with their body image also gained significantly less body mass per year than other girls. Sonneville and her colleagues examined the relationship between body satisfaction and binge eating disorder (BED) by examining data from the Growing up Today Study (GUTS), an ongoing study of the offspring of women in the well-known Nurses Health Study II. All girls were from 9 to 15 years of age when the study began in 1996.

During the 11-year follow-up, the mean body mass index (BMI) change was 5.1 kg/m2. About 1 in 10 girls (9.5%) met criteria for a diagnosis of BED at least once during the follow-up period. After adjustment for age, BMI, time viewing TV, and maternal overweight or obesity, girls who were satisfied with their bodies gained less weight and were less likely to develop BED during follow-up compared with their less-satisfied peers. The level of satisfaction seemed to matter, as the attenuation of the BMI increase and the reduction in the odds of developing BED increased as satisfaction increased. For example, girls who were very or totally satisfied with their bodies gained 0.13 fewer BMI units than did those who were not at all satisfied, and were 85% less likely to develop a pattern of binge eating.