Associations between family weight-based teasing, eating pathology, and psychosocial functioning among adolescent military dependents

Arielle T. Pearlman, Natasha A. Schvey, M. K. Higgins Neyland, Senait Solomon, Kathrin Hennigan, Rachel Schindler, William Leu, Dakota Gillmore, Lisa M. Shank, Jason M. Lavender, Natasha L. Burke, Denise E. Wilfley, Tracy Sbrocco, Mark Stephens, Sarah Jorgensen, David Klein, Jeffrey Quinlan, Marian Tanofsky-Kraff

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Abstract

Weight-based teasing (WBT) by family members is commonly reported among youth and is associated with eating and mood-related psychopathology. Military dependents may be particularly vulnerable to family WBT and its sequelae due to factors associated with their parents’ careers, such as weight and fitness standards and an emphasis on maintaining one’s military appearance; however, no studies to date have examined family WBT and its associations within this population. Therefore, adolescent military dependents at-risk for adult obesity and binge-eating disorder were studied prior to entry in a weight gain prevention trial. Youth completed items from the Weight-Based Victimization Scale (to assess WBT by parents and/or siblings) and measures of psychosocial functioning, including the Beck Depression Inventory-II, The Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, and the Social Adjustment Scale. Eating pathology was assessed via the Eating Disorder Examination interview, and height and fasting weight were measured to calculate BMIz. Analyses of covariance, adjusting for relevant covariates including BMIz, were conducted to assess relationships between family WBT, eating pathology, and psychosocial functioning. Participants were 128 adolescent military dependents (mean age: 14.35 years old, 54% female, 42% non-Hispanic White, mean BMIz: 1.95). Nearly half the sample (47.7%) reported family WBT. Adjusting for covariates, including BMIz, family WBT was associated with greater eating pathology, poorer social functioning and self-esteem, and more depressive symptoms (ps ≤ 0.02). Among military dependents with overweight and obesity, family WBT is prevalent and may be linked with eating pathology and impaired psychosocial functioning; prospective research is needed to elucidate the temporal nature of these associations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number24
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Volume17
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2020

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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Pearlman, A. T., Schvey, N. A., Higgins Neyland, M. K., Solomon, S., Hennigan, K., Schindler, R., Leu, W., Gillmore, D., Shank, L. M., Lavender, J. M., Burke, N. L., Wilfley, D. E., Sbrocco, T., Stephens, M., Jorgensen, S., Klein, D., Quinlan, J., & Tanofsky-Kraff, M. (2020). Associations between family weight-based teasing, eating pathology, and psychosocial functioning among adolescent military dependents. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(1), [24]. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17010024