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Eat Behav. 2014 Jun 20;15(4):532-539. doi: 10.1016/j.eatbeh.2014.06.006. [Epub ahead of print]

Marital conflict in early childhood and adolescent disordered eating: Emotional insecurity about the marital relationship as an explanatory mechanism.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychology, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA. Electronic address: georgemr@mailbox.sc.edu.
  • 2Department of Psychology, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA. Electronic address: amandajfairchld@gmail.com.
  • 3Department of Psychology, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, USA. Electronic address: ecumming@nd.edu.
  • 4Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, USA. Electronic address: patrick.davies@rochester.edu.


Disordered eating behaviors, including frequent dieting, unhealthy weight control behaviors (e.g., vomiting and skipping meals for weight loss) and binge eating are prevalent among adolescents. While negative, conflict-ridden family environments have long been implicated as problematic and a contributing factor to the development of disordered eating, few studies have examined the influence of marital conflict exposure in childhood to understand the development of these behaviors in adolescence. The current study investigates the impact of marital conflict, children's emotional insecurity about the marital relationship, and disordered eating behaviors in early adolescence in a prospective, longitudinal study of a community sample of 236 families in Midwest and Northeast regions of the U.S. Full structural mediation analyses utilizing robust latent constructs of marital conflict and emotional insecurity about the marital relationship, support children's emotional insecurity as an explanatory mechanism for the influence of marital conflict on adolescent disordered eating behaviors. Findings are discussed with important implications for the long-term impact of marital conflict and the development of disordered eating in adolescence.

Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Adolescence; Disordered eating behaviors; Emotional security; Marital conflict

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