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J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2000 Oct;39(10):1277-83.

Relationship of childhood sexual abuse and eating disturbance in children.

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Department of Neuroscience, University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Fargo 58102, USA.



To test the hypothesis that childhood sexual abuse increases the risk of eating disturbance in children.


Data obtained from 20 sexually abused children were compared with data obtained from 20 nonabused control children. All subjects were female and between the ages of 10 and 15 years. Subjects completed a battery of tests assessing eating disorder behaviors, body image concern, and childhood trauma history.


Comparison of the 2 groups revealed that the abused children had higher levels of weight dissatisfaction and purging and dieting behavior. Furthermore, abused children reported eating less than control children when they felt emotionally upset. Abused children were less likely than control children to exhibit perfectionistic tendencies, but more likely to desire thinner body types.


This is the first controlled study to examine the relationship between childhood sexual abuse and eating disturbance which relied on children as subjects. The results support previous findings with adult subjects which indicate that a history of childhood sexual abuse is associated with weight and body dissatisfaction, along with purging and dietary restriction.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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