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Cyberbullying Tied to Eating Disorder Symptoms in Early Adolescence

Authors say screening may be recommended

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 13, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Cyberbullying victimization and perpetration in early adolescence are associated with eating disorder symptoms, according to a study published online Sept. 6 in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

Chloe M. Cheng, from University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues used data from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study (2018 to 2020) to examine the association between cyberbullying and eating disorder symptoms in a national sample of 10- to 14-year-olds (10,258 individuals).

The researchers found that cyberbullying victimization was associated with worry about weight gain (prevalence ratio [PR], 2.41), self-worth tied to weight (PR, 2.08), inappropriate compensatory behavior to prevent weight gain (PR, 1.95), binge eating (PR, 1.95), and distress with binge eating (PR, 2.64) in adjusted models. Cyberbullying perpetration was associated with even higher levels of worry about weight gain (PR, 3.52), self-worth tied to weight (PR, 5.59), binge eating (PR, 2.36), and distress with binge eating (PR, 2.84).

"Adolescents experience cyberbullying related to appearance and weight. Cyberbullying can lead to low self-esteem, body dissatisfaction, and the development of an eating disorder," senior author Jason M. Nagata, M.D., also of the University of California, San Francisco, said in a statement. "Adolescents should limit social media that encourages eating disorders and appearance comparisons. Parents should advise their children to avoid cyberbullying and encourage them to report online harassment if it occurs."

Abstract/Full Text

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