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Int J Eat Disord. 2001 Mar;29(2):166-76.

Sexual violence and weight control techniques among adolescent girls.

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Department of Sociology, North Dakota State University, Fargo, North Dakota, USA.



Research has linked childhood sexual abuse and eating disturbances among adult females. Less is known about whether sexual abuse in the form of dating violence has implications for deviant weight control techniques among adolescent girls. This study assesses the association between sexual violence and weight control practices among girls. We also attempt to untangle the effects of family environment from this association and to determine if weak impulse control mediates the association.


Survey data were gathered from 2,629 girls in Grades 9-12 to assess health risks. Girls responded to questions regarding dating violence, unwanted sexual contact, purging, and diet pill consumption. Logistic regression was used to assess the unique contribution of sexual violence on weight control techniques.


Dating violence and unwanted sexual contact elevated the probability that girls would report practicing weight control techniques by 6-13%. Controls for family environment did not eliminate these associations. Weak impulse control did not significantly mediate these associations.


These findings suggest that sexual violence has immediate implications as a risk factor for weight control techniques in adolescence.

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