Objective. Self-esteem is implied as a factor in the development of eating disorders. In adolescence peers have an increasing influence. Support for the role of self-esteem in eating disorders is ambiguous and little is known about the influence of social status as judged by others. The present study investigates whether self-esteem and peer status in early adolescence are associated with eating pathology in young adulthood. Method. This study is part of TRAILS, a longitudinal cohort study on mental health and social development from preadolescence into adulthood. At age 11, participants completed the Self-Perception Profile for Children, assessing global self-esteem and self-perceptions regarding social acceptance, physical appearance, and academic competence. At age 13, peer status among classmates was assessed regarding likeability, physical attractiveness, academic performance, and popularity in a subsample of 1,007 participants. The Eating Disorder Diagnostic Scale was administered at age 22. The present study included peer-nominated participants with completed measures of self-perception at age 11 and eating pathology at age 22 (N = 732; 57.8% female). Results. In a combined model, self-perceived physical attractiveness at age 11 and peer popularity at age 13 were inversely correlated with eating pathology at 22 years, while likeability by peers at age 13 was positively related to eating pathology. Discussion. Both self-perceptions and peer status in early adolescence are significant predictors of eating pathology in young adults. Specific measures of self-esteem and peer-perceived status may be more relevant to the prediction of eating pathology than a global measure of self-esteem.
© 2018 The Authors International Journal of Eating Disorders Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Background. Various childhood social experiences have been reported to predict adult outcomes. However, it is unclear how different social contexts may influence each other's effects in the long run. This study examined the joint contribution of adolescent family and peer experiences to young adult wellbeing and functioning. Methods. Participants came from the TRacking Adolescents' Individual Lives Survey (TRAILS) study (n = 2230). We measured family and peer relations at ages 11 and 16 (i.e. family functioning, perceived parenting, peer status, peer relationship quality), and functioning as the combination of subjective wellbeing, physical and mental health, and socio-academic functioning at age 22. Using structural equation modelling, overall functioning was indicated by two latent variables for positive and negative functioning. Positive, negative and overall functioning at young adulthood were regressed on adolescent family experiences, peer experiences and interactions between the two. Results. Family experiences during early and mid-adolescence were most predictive for later functioning; peer experiences did not independently predict functioning. Interactions between family and peer experiences showed that both protective and risk factors can have context-dependent effects, being exacerbated or overshadowed by negative experiences or buffered by positive experiences in other contexts. Overall the effect sizes were modest at best. Conclusions. Adolescent family relations as well as the interplay with peer experiences predict young adult functioning. This emphasizes the importance of considering the relative effects of one context in relation to the other.