Abnormal eating behavior in elementary and junior high school students: Relation to mental health and social maladjustment.


The present study surveyed the current status of abnormal eating behavior among elementary and junior high school students, using a self-report questionnaire designed by the authors. Valid responses were obtained from 4,952 students (2,511 boys and 2,441 girls) who were in elementary school grades 4 through 6, and in all 3 years of junior high school. Confirmatory factor analysis of the questionnaire data supported a two-factor structure: ‘drive for thinness’ and ‘bulimia’, and measurement invariance across gender, grade, and body mass index (BMI). The scores on drive for thinness were higher for the girls than for the boys, especially in grades 8 and 9. Although the score distribution for bulimia was similar across gender and grade, the girls’ scores increased slightly with grade. Drive for thinness was more strongly correlated with depression than with aggression, whereas bulimia was more strongly correlated with aggression. Both factors were correlated with academic performance problems and family relationships in both the boys and the girls, specifically with the boys’ peer problems and the girls’ student-teacher relationship problems.