Mindful Attention and Eating Expectancies Among Trauma-Exposed Latinx College Students



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Rates of trauma exposure among college students are high, and extant work suggests that greater trauma-exposure risk is associated with ethnic minority status. Moreover, maladaptive health behaviors (e.g., disordered eating) are common among trauma-exposed individuals, as well as college students and Latinx individuals. There is a need, however, to further understand the cognitive processes that underlie maladaptive eating among these populations, such as the expectations related to the function of eating. Mindful attention may be an important factor related to eating expectancies among trauma exposed, Latinx college students. The current study employed a cross-sectional design, examining mindful attention in relation to expectancies of eating to help manage negative affect, expectancies of eating to alleviate boredom, and expectancies of eating to lead to feeling out of control among Latinx, trauma-exposed college students. Participants included 304 undergraduate Latinx students who reported some amount of trauma exposure (84.5% females; Mage = 22.8 years, SD = 5.79). Results of our study indicated that lower levels of mindful attention were associated with strong expectancies that eating will manage negative affect, alleviate boredom, and lead to a loss of control. These results were observed over and above variance accounted for by sex, body mass index (BMI), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptom severity. These findings suggest that increased mindful attention may be a protective factor against eating expectancies and subsequent disordered eating among trauma-exposed, Latinx college students. This project was completed with contributions from Jafar Bakhshaie from Baylor College of Medicine.