The influence of reported trauma and adverse events on eating disturbance in young adults


  • A portion of this manuscript was presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society, March 2003, Phoenix, AZ.



Early experiences of trauma or adverse events may be associated with eating disturbance later in life, but evidence is scarce. This study examined whether reported history of adverse life events predicted eating disturbance upon college entry and prospective changes over the first semester of college.


First semester college students (n = 249) reported trauma/adverse event histories and completed disordered eating questions (with two factors, restriction and binging/purging) at the beginning and end of their first semester.


At college entry, trauma type, frequency, and overall trauma severity were related to restricted eating, and trauma type and severity was related to binging/purging. Prospective increases in reported restricted eating were predicted by trauma type. Prospective increases in binging/purging were associated with trauma type and total trauma severity.


These data suggest that reports of past trauma and adverse events cross-sectionally predict reported disordered eating at college entry as well as prospective increases in disordered eating over the first semester of college. Research and clinical implications for these findings are discussed. © 2007 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 2008