Dietary intake in population-based adolescents: Support for a relationship between eating disorder symptoms, low fatty acid intake and depressive symptoms

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Abstract

Background
Relatively little is known about the dietary intake and nutritional status of community-based individuals with eating disorders. This research aimed to: (i) describe the dietary intake of population-based adolescents with an eating disorder and (ii) examine associations between eating disorder symptoms, fatty acid intake and depressive symptoms in adolescents with and without an eating disorder.

Methods
Data were drawn from the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study, a population-based cohort study that has followed participants from birth to young adulthood. This research utilised self-report data from the 17-year Raine Study assessment. Participants comprised 429 female adolescents who completed comprehensive questionnaire measures on dietary intake, eating disorder symptoms and depressive symptoms.

Results
Adolescents with an eating disorder (n = 66) reported a significantly lower intake of total fat, saturated fat, omega-6 fatty acid, starch, vitamin A and vitamin E compared to adolescents without an eating disorder (n = 363). Adolescents with an eating disorder and pronounced depressive symptoms (n = 23) also reported a significantly lower intake of polyunsaturated fat and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid than adolescents with an eating disorder but no marked depression (n = 43). In the eating disorder sample but not the control sample, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid correlated significantly and negatively with eating disorder symptoms and with depressive symptoms.

Conclusions
Support is provided for a relationship between low omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid intake and depressive symptoms in adolescents with eating disorders. Research is needed to examine the feasibility and effectiveness of fatty acid supplementation in this high-risk group.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
JournalJournal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics
Volume26
Issue number5
Early online date6 Dec 2012
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013

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