BACKGROUND: Using the person-oriented approach, we determined the relationships between four indicators (restraint and eating, shape, and weight concerns) of disordered eating (DE), as measured by the self-reported Eating Disorders Examination Questionnaire (EDE-Q), to identify typical DE patterns. We then related these patterns to clinical EDE-Q cut-off scores and emotion dysregulation, depression, self-esteem, and two categories of DE behaviors (≥2 or ≤1 "yes" responses on the SCOFF questionnaire).
METHOD: Typical patterns of DE were identified in a community sample of 1,265 Swedish adolescents (Mage = 16.19, SD = 1.21; age range 13.5-19 years) using a cluster analysis. Separate analyses were performed for girls (n = 689) and boys (n = 576).
RESULTS: The cluster analysis yielded a six-cluster solution for each gender. Four of the six clusters for girls and five for boys showed scores above the clinical cut-off on at least one of the four DE indicators. For girls, the two clusters that scored above the clinical cut-offs on all four DE indicators reported severe psychological problems, including high scores on emotion dysregulation and depression and low scores on self-esteem. In contrast, for boys, although two clusters reported above the clinical cut-off on all four indicators, only the cluster with exceedingly high scores on shape and weight concerns reported high emotion dysregulation and depression, and extremely low self-esteem. Furthermore, significantly more girls and boys in the most problematic DE clusters reported ≥2 "yes" responses on the SCOFF questionnaire (as opposed to ≤1 response), indicating clear signs of DE and severe psychological difficulties.
CONCLUSION: We suspect that the various problematic DE patterns will require different paths back to a healthy diet. However, more research is needed to determine the developmental trajectories of these DE patterns and ensure more precise clinical cut-off scores, especially for boys. Comprehensive understanding of DE patterns might be of use to healthcare professionals for detecting DE before it develops into an eating disorder.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: Lund, EPN (dnr: 2012/499).
2016. Vol. 4, no 28