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Life after childhood bullying: Body image development and disordered eating in adulthood

Journal article
Authors Kristina Holmqvist Gattario
Magnus Lindwall
Ann Frisén
Published in International Journal of Behavioral Development
ISSN 0165-0254
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Psychology
Language en
Subject categories Psychology, Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)


Studies have demonstrated that being bullied in childhood may have long-term associations with lower psychological well-being in adulthood. However, although bullying incidents frequently target the victim’s body and appearance, research has overlooked studying victims’ long-term body image development and risk of engaging in disordered eating later in life. This 14-year longitudinal research project examined childhood bullying in relation to body image development and disordered eating in emerging adulthood. Growth curve analyses of participants’ body image at ages 10–21 years (N = 960) revealed that more victimized children experienced more body dissatisfaction at baseline and maintained their negative body image throughout adolescence and into adulthood. Mediation analyses showed that childhood bullying (age 10 years) predicted more negative body image in adolescence (age 18 years), which in turn predicted more disordered eating in adulthood (age 24 years). The indirect effect was stronger for girls than for boys. The findings suggest that bullied children are likely to face both more body image problems and disordered eating as they evolve through adolescence and into adulthood, indicating the need for early and effective interventions. Incorporating components known to promote a more positive body image could be a valuable feature of future interventions. Thus, as children and adolescents are taught to cope with bullying situations, they could also be helped to deal with the appearance culture that permeates many of these situations.

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012

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