New research shows it may now be possible to find out if a girl is at risk for an eating disorder based on her food choices in her pre-teen years--even as young as 11 years old. The study, which was revealed in a news release by the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, is said to be among the few long-term studies that have looked at girls’ eating habits from pre-puberty up to early adulthood.

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For the study, researchers looked at the food diaries of 800 girls as young as age nine. From the information gathered, they were able to deduce that the percentage of carbohydrates and fats the girls ate at 11 was telling of their increasing dissatisfaction in body image at age 14. They also discovered that those who ate less fats and more carbohydrates were more likely to have erratic eating habits by age 19. Previous studies--which were based on the same food diaries--also revealed that girls who skipped lunch consumed more calories than girls who had their noontime meal.

For parents who are worried about their girls, the study may be considered revolutionary. "By assessing protein and fat consumption as early as age nine, we can detect which girls may go on to develop eating disorders and step in to help before things get out of control," says Laurie Dunham, a registered dietitian at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

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(Photo by Amber Simmons via Flickr Creative Commons)

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