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A Journal on Pediatrics, Neonatology, Adolescent Medicine,
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

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Minerva Pediatrica 2004 August;56(4):395-410


language: Italian

Eating behaviour and body image: epidemiological study on 4243 senior and junior high school’s Italian students

Pruneti C., Fontana F., Donalizio M., Buracchi G., Bicchieri L.


Aim. This preliminary study is focused on the description of some dysfunctional perceptions of the body's image and eating habits in a large sample of Italian adolescents.
Methods. A total of 4 243 secondary school adolescents were examined in the Tuscany and Liguria regions in north-west Italy. The age of the 2 024 male and 2 219 female adolescents ranged from 12 to 18 years.
The Pisa Survey for Eating Disorder (PSED), a questionnaire aimed at examining eating behaviour and self perception of the body image, was administered.
Results. Answers given to items considered in this preliminary study have highlighted the recurrence of cognitive distortions and an excessively rigid attitude to bodily self perception, not to mention frequent and often daily dysfunctional eating behaviour. Particularly, females show a more severe attitude to their own body, a stronger desire to lose weight and more resolution to follow a diet.
It is also true to say that girls present more often than their male peers irregular eating habits and moments of overeating. Also the recourse to self-induced vomiting, or other coercive expedients, appears to be more typical of female behaviour though this practise was widespread throughout the sample.
Conclusion. The PSED questionnaire has proved to be a useful tool in revealing eating habits and self-perception in the examined sample. The results obtained confirm the urgent need for educational and preventive intervention.

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