The Impact of Childhood Sexual Abuse on Adulthood Eating Disorders: When Healthy Eating Becomes Unhealthy
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC; 2020c) estimated that approximately 3.7 million children experience childhood sexual abuse (CSA) every year in the United States. CSA is a significant issue associated with negative psychosocial and health-related outcomes,including eating disorders (Afifi et al., 2017). While there has been substantial research completed regarding CSA and eating disorders, there is a significant gap in the literature regarding Orthorexia Nervosa (ON) and CSA. The present study sought to determine whether CSA is a risk factor ON and determine the relationship between frequency of occurrence of CSA, sex, race, previous eating disorder diagnosis,and other significant stressors, particularly COVID-19 and ON. Participants were 535 individuals who completed an online questionnaire that assessed these variables. A Mann-Whitney analysis did not find a significant difference in scores on the Eating Habits Questionnaire (EHQ; Gleaves et al., 2013) among individuals with a history of CSA as compared to individuals without a history of CSA; no significant differences in EHQ scores were found among individuals who experienced CSA on two or more occasions compared to individuals who experienced CSA on one occasion. A Mann-Whitney analysis confirmed that individuals previously diagnosed with an eating disorder, and those who previously received eating disorder treatment demonstrated higher ON symptomology severity. Mann-Whitney and one-way between groups ANOVAs revealed minimal-to-no group differences among sex, race, and age in EHQ scores, except for Caucasian/White individuals scoring higher than Asian/Asian American individuals. Lastly, an ANOVA revealed no significant findings between COVID-19 stressors and EHQ scores.