Disordered eating among adolescents: Associations with sexual/physical abuse and other familial/psychosocial factors

Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Mary Story, Peter J. Hannan, Trish Beuhring, Michael D. Resnick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

111 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine associations between disordered eating behaviors and a range of familial/psychosocial factors, including sexual and physical abuse experiences, among adolescent girls and boys. Method: A statewide representative sample of 9,943 students in Grades 7, 9, and 11 in Connecticut completed a comprehensive survey on adolescent health within their schools. The present analysis focused on measures of disordered eating, sexual and physical abuse, familial factors, peer support, and depressive symptoms. Results: Youth at increased risk for disordered eating included those who perceived family communication, parental caring, and parental expectations as low and those who reported sexual or physical abuse experiences. After adjusting for differences in familial/psychosocial factors, associations between abuse experiences and disordered eating were weakened. However, youth who reported sexual abuse were still at increased risk for disordered eating, even after adjusting for physical abuse, sociodemographics, and familial/psychosocial factors (girls: odds ratio [OR] = 1.99, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.51, 2.64; boys: OR = 4.88, 95% CI = 2.94, 8.10). Youth reporting physical abuse were also at increased risk for disordered eating after adjusting for sexual abuse, sociodemographics, and familial/psychosocial factors (girls: OR = 2.00, 95% CI = 1.52, 2.62; boys: OR = 1.95, 95% CI = 1.26, 3.04). Discussion: The findings suggest that strong familial relationships may decrease the risk for disordered eating among youth reporting abuse experiences, but both sexual and physical abuse are strong independent risk factors for disordered eating among both adolescent girls and boys. (C) 2000 by John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-258
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000



  • Adolescents
  • Eating disorders
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse

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