Stressors unique to military families may place dependents of military service members of both sexes at high-risk for disordered-eating. Yet, there are no data examining sex-related differences in eating pathology and distress among this population. Therefore, we examined disordered-eating attitudes and associated psychosocial characteristics in adolescent military dependents at high-risk for both eating disorders and adult obesity (i.e., BMI ≥ 85th percentile and elevated anxiety symptoms and/or loss-of-control eating). One-hundred-twenty-five (55.2% female) adolescent (12–17 y) military dependents were studied prior to entry in an eating disorder and obesity prevention trial. Youth were administered the Eating Disorder Examination interview to determine disordered-eating attitudes, and completed questionnaires to assess self-esteem, social functioning, and depression. Girls and boys did not differ in BMIz (p =.66) or race/ethnicity (p =.997/p =.55). Adjusting for relevant covariates, girls and boys did not differ significantly with regard to disordered-eating global scores (p =.38), self-esteem (p =.23), or social functioning (p =.19). By contrast, girls reported significantly more symptoms of depression (p =.001). Adolescent male and female dependents at high-risk for eating disorders and adult obesity reported comparable levels of eating-related and psychosocial stress. Data are needed to elucidate how adolescent military dependents respond to intervention and whether sex moderates outcome.
- Adolescent military dependents
- Psychosocial functioning