Having a higher body mass index (BMI) and starting puberty early are known to be risk factors for developing eating disorders. However, little is known about the effects of young girls' subjective beliefs about their weight and puberty. A survey of 136 girls, with an average age of 12, by researchers at Friedrich-Schiller University in Germany looked into the links between weight limits (weights which the girls said they would feel uncomfortable going above), the girls' perceptions of whether they were late or early starters and the development of disordered eating. The study found that there were significant correlations between disordered eating and weight limits which 48% of the girls had set themselves. 22% of the girls had unhealthily-low weight limits. Girls who saw themselves starting puberty either earlier or later than normal were also more likely to have disordered eating.
Berger, Uwe, Weitkamp, Katharina and Strauss, Bernhard - Weight limits, estimations of future BMI, subjective pubertal timing and physical apperance comparisons among adolescent girls as precursors of disturbed eating behaviour in a community sample European Eating Disorders Review March-April 2009, 17(2), 128-136