Signs of eating disorders commonly emerge during early to middle adolescence, are most prevalent in girls, and are significantly associated with subsequent eating disorder diagnoses. Available research points to psychological distress (anxiety and depression), early puberty, bullying and family problems as important contextual factors, but no research has examined how these factors together interact to predict emerging eating disorders. This research utilises a large scale state-representative survey of adolescent girls (N = 5,125) conducted by the Department of Education and Early Childhood (Government of Victoria). The research consists of three parts: (1) Verification of the psychometric properties of the Branched Eating Disorders Test; (2) Evaluation of a structural equation model of the key variables, and; (3) Testing the indirect effects of the key variables on emerging eating disorders via psychological distress. The key findings were that the hypothesised model of the key variables predicting emerging eating disorders had good fit to the data, all key predictors were statistically significant, and that psychological distress partially mediated the association between emerging eating disorders and early puberty, family problems and bullying. Longitudinal designs are needed to examine aetiology, but the present results are consistent with the possibility that family problems, early puberty, and bullying are associated with increased psychological distress and that psychological distress increases the risk of eating disorders. This research may be useful in guiding early intervention and prevention programs for at-risk adolescent girls.