B3559 - Does the Timing of Menarche Affect the Development of Eating Disordered Behaviour - 16/06/2020

B number: 
Principal applicant name: 
Helen Bould | University of Bristol (UK)
Ms Sneha Nicholson, Dr Carol Joinson, Dr Jon Heron, Dr Naomi Warne
Title of project: 
Does the Timing of Menarche Affect the Development of Eating Disordered Behaviour
Proposal summary: 

Disordered eating behaviour remains a widespread and persistent problem among adolescent girls. The various changes associated with puberty have been implicated in the development of these behaviours (Senia 2018). The link between timing of menarche, as a proxy for pubertal development, and psychological distress more generally has been previously established (Mendle 2007, Joinson 2013). However, many questions remain about the relationship between eating disordered behaviours and pubertal development during adolescence. Previous studies have not adequately assessed the age of menarche due to recall bias. This study examines if early menarche could be relevant in the development of eating disordered behaviour using prospective measures from ALSPAC. Furthermore, this study interrogates if the link between early menarche and disordered eating behaviour holds through late adolescence, when early developers’ peers have caught up. In other words, does the association between early pubertal development and disordered eating result from the discord between a child and their peers or does it have more to do with the actual development itself?

Using questionnaire data collected through ALSPAC, this study assesses various markers relating to puberty as well as identifying timing of menarche and any disordered eating behaviour.

Impact of research: 
This project will lead to a greater understanding of the development of eating disorders in young adolescent girls. As eating disorders have the highest fatality of any mental health disorder, we believe this research is pertinent and salient.
Date proposal received: 
Monday, 15 June, 2020
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Eating disorders - anorexia, bulimia, Statistical methods, eating disorders; puberty