Impulsivity as an underlying factor in the relationship between disordered eating and sexual behavior




Previous research has reported associations between bulimia nervosa (BN), increased sexual activity, and impulsivity. However, most studies have examined these topics separately and have not examined the role of impulsivity in associations between bulimic and sexual behaviors. The current study sought to examine relationships between disordered eating, sexual behaviors, and impulsivity, as well as to investigate impulsivity as a third variable in these relationships.


The participants were 500 female undergraduate students from a large midwestern university who completed self-report questionnaires of binge eating, the use of compensatory behavior, sexual behavior, and impulsivity.


Compensatory behavior, but not binge eating, was significantly correlated with sexual experiences. Partial correlations indicated that impulsivity is a third variable that partially underlies this relationship.


Compensatory behaviors and increased sexual activity likely represent risky behaviors that are influenced by impulsivity levels. © 2005 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.