Young teens who binge eat and those who are fearful of weight gain may be more likely to become overweight later in adolescence, according to a new study from the United Kingdom.
Researchers looked for early symptoms of eating disorders among more than 7,000 13-year-olds and found certain symptoms predicted which children would have weight problems at age 15.
Girls who engaged in binge eating at 13 had an average increase in body mass index (BMI), a measure of weight relative to height, of 24 percent two years later.
Both boys and girls who severely restricted their eating at 13 had lower BMIs when they were two years older.
Of the participants in the study, 63 percent of girls and 39 percent of boys were afraid of gaining weight or getting fat. Extreme levels of fear of weight gain or concerns about body shape or weight were seen among 11 percent of girls.
Girls avoided fatty foods more often than boys, while boys were more likely to do intense exercise for weight loss.
Even at age 13, overeating and binging was strongly linked to negative impacts on the child's life and burden to family among both boys and girls, the researchers report in the Journal of Adolescent Health.