Eating Disorders in Teens Increases the Risk of Depression and of Being Bullied


Researchers have recently published a study called ‘Longitudinal Associations Among Bullying by Peers, Disordered Eating Behavior, and Symptoms of Depression During Adolescence’, in JAMA Psychiatry.

According to the study, eating disorders increase the risk of teens being bullied and becoming depressed.

The report was conducted by Kirsty S. Lee, PhD, and Tracy Vaillancourt, PhD, of the University of Ottawa in Canada. They have discovered that eating disorders like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or binge-eating disorders are both seen in adolescent girls and boys, having similar long-term consequences.

For their study, they had data on 612 teenage boys and girls between 13-17 years old. They were examined as part of the Canadian McMaster Teen Study. The study was checking to see if there is an association between mental health, academic achievement, and bullying. The students received self-assessment questionnaires that used five-point scales for different questions on perception of bullying.

Lee’s and Vaillancourt’s study also used data from the ‘Short Screen for Eating Disorders’, and from the ‘The Behavior Assessment System for Children’ to assess eating behavior and depressive symptoms.

Previous Studies Showed a Connection Between Bullying, Depression and Eating Disorders

Even though there were previous studies on these three issues, the connection was different. they argued that bullying was making teens depressive and having eating disorders.

But the authors had a different theory:

“Previous studies have found depressive symptoms to be a risk factor for bullying by peers but this is the first study to our knowledge to find disordered eating to be a risk factor for being bullied in a non-clinical sample of adolescents.”

There is a solution to prevent depression and bullying. The teens should be encouraged to build positive eating habits and attitude toward nutrition and food.

Lee and Vaillancourt wrote:

“Interventions for disordered eating behavior should ideally target negative attitudes, promote healthy weight control behavior, and contain an element of self-compassion, which can reduce symptoms of disordered eating and other psychopathologic symptoms.”


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