Disordered eating in a Swedish community sample of adolescent girls: Subgroups, stability, and associations with body esteem, deliberate self-harm and other difficulties

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: The developmental study of subtypes of disordered eating (DE) during adolescence may be relevant to understand the development of eating disorders. The purpose of the present study was to identify subgroups with different profiles of DE in a community sample of adolescent girls aged 13-15 years, and to study the stability of these profiles and subgroups over a one-year interval in order to find patterns that may need to be addressed in further research and prevention. Methods: Cluster analysis according to the LICUR procedure was performed on five aspects of DE, and the structural and individual stability of these clusters was analysed. The clusters were compared with regard to BMI, body esteem, deliberate self-harm, and other kinds of psychological difficulties. Results: The analysis revealed six clusters (Multiple eating problems including purging, Multiple eating problems without purging, Social eating problems, Weight concerns, Fear of not being able to stop eating, and No eating problems) all of which had structurally stable profiles and five of which showed stability at the individual level. The more pronounced DE clusters (Multiple eating problems including/without purging) were consistently associated with higher levels of psychological difficulties and lower levels of body esteem. Furthermore, girls that reported purging reported engaging in self-harm to a larger extent. Conclusions: Subgroups of 13-15 year old girls show stable patterns of disordered eating that are associated with higher rates of psychological impairment and lower body esteem. The subgroup of girls who engage in purging also engage in more deliberate self-harm.


External organisations
  • Skåne University Hospital
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Applied Psychology


  • Adolescents, Cluster analysis, Disordered eating, Longitudinal, Prevention, Risk factors
Original languageEnglish
Article number5
JournalJournal of Eating Disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Mar 22
Publication categoryResearch