Thursday, January 27, 2000
Young girls who are sexually abused are more likely to develop eating disorders as adolescents
University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences
Stephen A. Wonderlich, M.D., et al, University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Fargo, Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 2000; 391277-1283.
Young girls who are sexually abused are more likely to develop eating disorders as adolescents. The findings also add to a growing body of research suggesting that trauma in childhood increases the risk of developing an eating disorder. Abused girls were more dissatisfied with their weight and more likely to diet and purge their food by vomiting or using laxatives and diuretics. Abused girls were also more likely to restrict their eating when they were bored or emotionally upset. Wonderlich suggests that abused girls might experience higher levels of emotional distress, possibly linked to their abuse, and have trouble coping. Food restriction and perhaps other eating disorder behaviors may (reflect) efforts to cope with such experiences. The report also indicates that while girls who were abused were less likely to exhibit perfectionist tendencies (such as making extreme efforts to avoid disappointing others and a need to be 'the best'), they tended to want thinner bodies than girls who had not been abused.