This study examined gender differences in the association between childhood maltreatment and disordered eating attitudes and behaviors in adulthood. Data were derived from 1647 adults (ages 27–33) participating in a population-based, longitudinal study (Project EAT-IV: Eating Among Teens and Young Adults, 1998–2016). Childhood maltreatment (sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, emotional neglect) and disordered eating attitudes and behaviors (overeating, binge eating, extreme weight control behaviors, unhealthy weight control behaviors, chronic dieting, weight and shape concerns) were assessed. Relative risk regression models were used to examine whether childhood maltreatment was related to individual disordered eating attitudes and behaviors. Gender differences in these associations were explored. A history of any childhood maltreatment was associated with more than 60% greater risk for chronic dieting and overeating, with additional associations found for binge eating, weight and shape concerns, and unhealthy weight control behaviors. All types of abuse and neglect were associated with at least one type of disordered eating outcome. Examination of the point estimates indicated that emotional neglect was most consistently related to higher risk for disordered eating attitudes and behaviors. Although there were no statistically significant gender differences in the association between childhood maltreatment and disordered eating attitudes and behaviors, the patterning of these effects highlighted unique qualitative similarities and differences in these relationships between men and women. Taken together, these findings implicate childhood maltreatment, particularly emotional neglect, as a meaningful risk factor for problematic eating outcomes in both men and women during adulthood.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Data collection for the study was supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (R01 HL116892; PI: Neumark-Sztainer). Rebecca Emery's time was supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences under TL1 R002493 (PI: Fulkerson) and UL1 TR002494 (PI: Blazar). Cynthia Yoon's time was supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases under T32 DK083250 (PI: Jeffery) from. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences; or the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd
- Childhood maltreatment
- Disordered eating attitudes
- Disordered eating behaviors