Eating disorders and disordered eating behaviors among women: Associations with sexual risk


Fergus, Kirkpatrick B.; Copp, Hillary L.; Tabler, Jennifer L.; & Nagata, Jason M. (2019). Eating disorders and disordered eating behaviors among women: Associations with sexual risk. International Journal of Eating Disorders.


Objective: To evaluate the association between eating disorders or disordered eating behaviors and sexual risk in young women. Method: We used prospective cohort data of young women ages 18?26 years from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (N = 5,899). Exposures of interest (at 18?26?years) included a self-reported eating disorder diagnosis or disordered eating behaviors including fasting/skipping meals, vomiting, diet pills, or laxative/diuretic use to lose weight and binge eating. Sexual risk outcomes at 7-year follow-up included the number of new sexual partners, condom use, and sexually transmitted infections. Results: Having either an eating disorder or reporting any disordered eating behavior was associated with a greater number of new sexual partners (B = 1.09, 95% CI [0.18, 2.00]) and lower odds of condom use (odds ratio 0.70, 95% CI [0.53, 0.94] among a subsample of sexually active, unmarried women). Discussion: Young women with eating disorders or who engage in disordered eating behaviors are at higher risk for multiple new sexual partners and unprotected sex. Clinicians caring for young adults with eating disorders may consider screening for sexual risk behaviors.



eating disorder

Reference Type

Journal Article

Journal Title

International Journal of Eating Disorders


Fergus, Kirkpatrick B.
Copp, Hillary L.
Tabler, Jennifer L.
Nagata, Jason M.

Year Published



July 03, 2019



Reference ID