Hazzard, Vivienne M. (2019). Family risk and protective factors for binge eating-related concerns in a nationaly representative sample of young adults in the United States.
Binge eating-related concerns (i.e., emotions and cognitions associated with binge eating, such as embarrassment over amount eaten and fear of losing control over eating) have been found to prospectively predict eating disorder onset. Therefore, reducing binge eating-related concerns may be a promising target for eating disorders prevention and early intervention, particularly for eating disorders involving binge eating. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health), a nationally representative sample of the United States, the overarching objective of this dissertation project was to examine family risk and protective factors for binge eating-related concerns in young adulthood, as well as to investigate potential mediators and moderators. Using a person-centered approach, the first aim identified five childhood maltreatment latent classes: “no/low maltreatment,” “physical abuse only,” “multi-type maltreatment,” “physical neglect only,” and “sexual abuse only.” Participants assigned to the “multi-type maltreatment” class were more likely to report binge eating-related concerns compared to those assigned to the “no/low maltreatment” class. Selfesteem in adolescence mediated a statistically significant but modest proportion of this association. However, no associations were observed between the single-type childhood maltreatment classes and binge eating-related concerns. In the second aim, higher mother-child connectedness in adolescence, but not father-child connectedness in adolescence, was found to be associated with lower odds of binge eating-related concerns in the whole sample, but differences by sex emerged. Both higher mother-child connectedness and higher father-child connectedness in adolescence were associated with lower odds of binge eating-related concerns among females, but neither mother-child connectedness nor father-child connectedness in adolescence were associated with binge eating-related concerns among males. The third aim explored the differential susceptibility hypothesis, which posits that genetic variants such as the S allele of 5-HTTLPR confer increased sensitivity not only to environmental risk factors, but also to environmental protective factors. Neither childhood abuse nor parent-child connectedness in adolescence was found to interact with 5-HTTLPR genotype in predicting binge eating-related concerns; thus, the differential susceptibility hypothesis was not supported. These findings suggest that eating disorders interventions should focus on decreasing risk factors such as childhood maltreatment and promoting protective factors such as parent-child connectedness.
Hazzard, Vivienne M.
Sonneville, Kendrin R.
ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3933-1766
University of Michigan