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childhood maltreatment, disordered eating, young adults


Disordered eating is highly prevalent in young adults (Eisenberg et al., 2011; Rowe, 2017) and is associated with chronic psychosocial impairments, increased risk of mortality (Pater et al., 2016; Stice et al., 2013), and rates of suicide (Sullivan, 1995; Suokas et al., 2014). As such, it is important to understand factors that may increase risks of developing disordered eating. Given that individuals are 3.21 times more likely to develop disordered eating concerns when they have a history of childhood maltreatment (Molendijk et al., 2017; Rodgers et al., 2019), this study seeks to examine why this relationship exists. Prior research suggests social information processing deficits (e.g., interpersonal mistrust), perceived deviation from normal pubertal timing relative to peers, and difficulties with emotions are three separate variables that help explain why childhood maltreatment is associated with disordered eating. Nevertheless, it is unclear whether these variables would better explain the relationship between maltreatment and disordered eating when considered simultaneously. The aim of the current study is to examine whether each of the three variables uniquely account for the relationship between childhood maltreatment and disordered eating and compare the relative importance. Specifically, it is expected that the three variables, considered simultaneously, will better explain the relationship between childhood maltreatment and disordered eating, over and above each variable independently. The results of this project will help shed light on widespread problem areas that lead to disordered eating and thus aid in more targeted prevention efforts to reduce the number of individuals who go on to develop disordered eating problems. Additionally, this research can help shape treatment considerations for those individuals who do develop disordered eating concerns.

First Advisor

Cazzie Steinzor

Research Area

Sara E. Lowmaster