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

Joshua M. Smyth, Kristin E. Heron, Stephen A. Wunderlich, Ross D. Crosby, Kevin M. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Objective: 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. Method: 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. Results: 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. Conclusion: 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-202
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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