Associations of Adverse Childhood Experiences with Maladaptive eating and Adaptive eating among college students



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Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) include abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction. ACEs have been shown to impact eating behaviors. However, specific ACEs (e.g. household dysfunction, emotional neglect) are understudied in terms of eating behaviors. Additionally, it is unknown how ACEs impact adaptive eating (e.g. intuitive and mindful) and maladaptive eating ( e.g., anxiety-related eating, and unhealthy weight control behaviors). Less research has been conveyed on adaptive and certain maladaptive eating in association with adverse childhood experiences. In order to address this we collected information from 778 college students and assessed eating behaviors and childhood experiences. The data was collected in order to expand on the research on how certain adverse experiences affected later health outcomes. Among college students, the most prevalent type of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) was parental divorce, emotional neglect, and household mental illnesses. The prevalence of anxiety-related eating behaviors was greater among college students who had experienced emotional, sexual, and physical abuse. It was also prominent for violence witness and household substance abuse, after adjustment for age, race/ethnicity, sex, and parent educational attainment. The prevalence of unhealthy weight control behaviors was greater among college students who had experienced emotional abuse, emotional neglect, and violence witness. Screening ACEs may help identify college students at greater risk of maladaptive eating and with lower scores of adaptive eating. Despite the high rate of parental divorce, there is no significant association with eating behaviors in our study, this suggests more studies should be explored.



Human nutrition and foods