Eating disorders apparently depend on the gender distribution in schools

Eating disorders apparently depend on the gender distribution in schools

School environment with a significant impact on the risk of an eating disorder
Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa (anorexia) are a serious health threat. Girls and young women in particular are increasingly developing such complaints, with numerous possible causes being discussed. In a recent study, British and Swedish scientists have now found that the gender distribution at the school attended and the level of education of the parents appear to be closely related to the likelihood of an eating disorder in girls.

Earlier clinical trials, according to the researchers, indicated that the likelihood of an eating disorder (ED) in girls can differ significantly between schools. The team of researchers from the University of Oxford, the University of Bristol, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the University College London and the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm has focused in the current study on gender distribution at the schools visited and here in relation to them the risk of an eating disorder. The parents' average level of education was also taken into account.

2.4 percent of the girls developed an eating disorder
In our study, we investigated the assumption that gender distribution and the average level of education of parents at school can influence the risk of eating disorders in girls, says Helen Bould of the University of Oxford and colleagues. In their study, the researchers analyzed the data from 55,059 Stockholm-born women who attended school between 2002 and 2010. The cumulative probability of developing an eating disorder was around 2.4 percent for 16 to 20 year old women over a period of five years, according to the researchers.

Level of education of parents and proportion of girls in schools as risk factors?
With every increase in the proportion of girls in a school, the probability of eating disorders has increased, according to the scientists. The same was shown when the proportion of children with at least one parent with a higher education was increased. For example, the "predicted likelihood of an average girl developing an eating disorder was 1.3 percent at a school with 25 percent girls where 25 percent of parents have college education, and 3.3 percent at a school with 75 percent girls where 75 percent of parents have a university education, ”Bould and colleagues write in the“ International Journal of Epidemiology ”.

The causes of the increased risk are unclear
The researchers conclude that girls in schools with a high proportion of students and well-educated parents have a higher risk of eating disorders - regardless of individual risk factors. However, the reasons for this are still unclear. The scientists now want to clarify in further studies whether and how the tendency to eating disorders is transmitted between the students. In any case, she believes that the school environment needs more consideration when looking for possible risk factors for eating disorders. (fp)

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