Year of Publication

2015

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Gregory T. Smith

Abstract

Repeated excessive exercise (EE) fasting behavior, in the absence of binge eating and purging, are important eating disorder behaviors that are not captured by the current diagnostic system. Though they appear to be harmful and distressing for adults, little is known about these behaviors in youth. To begin to understand their development, I studied the course of the behaviors across the three years of middle school (n = 1,195). Both behaviors were present in middle school girls and boys, and youth progressed along different developmental trajectories of engagement in the behaviors. Youth involved in either behavior experienced elevated levels of depression and some forms of high-risk eating and thinness expectancies. Their distress levels did not differ from those of youth engaging in purging behavior or low levels of binge eating. EE and fasting behavior can be identified in the early stages of adolescence, youth differ in their developmental experience of these behaviors, and they are associated with significant distress very early in development.

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