Published Papers - Abstract 121

Ball K & Lee C. Disordered eating behaviours: Relationships with psychological stress and coping in young Australian women. , ; :

Objective: This study investigated disordered eating behaviours reported by young Australian women, and the associations of these behaviours with psychological stress and coping. Methods: A representative population-based sample of 14,779 women aged 18-23 years completed a comprehensive mail-out survey including questions on binge eating, restrictive disordered eating behaviours (fasting, vomiting, laxative and diuretic use), life events stress, perceived stress levels, and coping strategies. Results: Current binge eating was reported by 15.6% of women, and restrictive disordered eating by 9.7% of women. Both binge eating and restrictive disordered eating were associated with a higher number of recent life events and higher perceived stress levels. In addition, the coping strategies typically used by women reporting current disordered eating behaviours differed from those of women reporting no disordered eating. In particular, eating more or less as a regular coping strategy was reported by 48% of women reporting current binge eating, compared with only 13% of women who did not binge eat. Conclusions: Psychological stress and coping are strongly linked to disordered eating among young Australian women. It remains for future research to investigate the causal pathways underlying these associations.