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Background: It has been suggested that childhood events increase the risk of suffering from an eating disorder ED in adolescence or young adulthood. Our study here aimed at investigating whether there was an association between stressful childhood events and eating disorders later in life. Methods: Our population-based study was a part of the HeSSup The Health and Social Support postal survey in 2003, a follow-up survey with a random sample of working-aged subjects drawn from the Finnish Population Register in 1998. Participants in this study reported having been suffering from ED N = 374, while controls N = 18,639 reported no history of eating disorder in the questionnaire both in 1998 and 2003. The questionnaire included six questions related to childhood adversities. Results: Each childhood stressor increased the risk of developing ED cumulatively one adversity OR 1.7 versus all six OR 8.3. Intrafamiliar conflicts OR 2.0, being afraid of a family member OR 1.5 or long-term illnesses in the family OR 1.4 increased the ED-risk statistical significantly. Conclusion: Children exposed to stress are more likely to suffer from eating disorders as adults than those not exposed.


Childhood Adversities, Stressful Life Events, Eating Disorders, Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa

Cite this paper

Sillanpää, V. , Mattila, K. and Sumanen, M. 2015 Childhood Adversities Associated with Eating Disorders Reported by Adults. Health, 7, 1327-1336. doi: 10.4236-health.2015.710147.

Autor: Veera Sillanpää1, Kari Mattila1,2, Markku Sumanen1



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