Childhood sexual and physical abuse in Spanish female undergraduates: Does it affect eating disturbances?

Ana M. Villarroel, Eva Penelo, Mariona Portell, Rosa M. Raich*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective To assess the relationship between childhood sexual and physical abuse, and key attitudinal and behavioural aspects of eating disorders (ED). Method Participants included 708 female undergraduates in a Spanish public university, aged from 18 to 30. Abuse was measured by the Traumatic Life Events Questionnaire, and ED by the Eating Disorders Examination Questionnaire (EDE-Q). Results 14.3% of the sample had suffered childhood sexual abuse (CSA) and 3.8% childhood physical abuse (CPA). With respect to ED attitudinal features, we observed an increased Weight Concern score among CSA survivors. No association was found between this kind of abuse and disordered eating behaviours, after adjusting for depression, anxiety, self-esteem, body mass index, age and socioeconomic status. An inverse relationship was found between CPA and ED attitudes measured by EDE-Q (Restraint, Weight Concern, Shape Concern and the Overall Score), whereas no association was found with the behavioural aspects of eating disturbances. Discussion After controlling for different risk factors, CSA appears to be related to an increased Weight Concern, whilst other ED attitudinal features and behaviours do not seem to be related to childhood abuse. The inverse relationship found is discussed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)e32-e41
JournalEuropean Eating Disorders Review
Volume20
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012

Keywords

  • childhood physical abuse
  • childhood sexual abuse
  • eating disorders
  • female undergraduates

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