Objective: Life adversities are recognized risk factors for eating disorders, in adolescents and adults, but whether such adversities are also associated with particular eating behaviors earlier in life is still unclear. Our aim was to assess whether experiencing adverse life events in early childhood is associated with emotional overeating and restrained eating at age 10. Methods: Emotional overeating and restrained eating were assessed in 4,653 10-years-old children using the mother-reported Children's Eating Behavior Questionnaire and Dutch Eating Behavior Questionnaire. Mothers also reported on 24 different life events during childhood, those with moderate or severe impact being categorized as adverse life events. Regression analyses were performed to investigate relationships between adverse life events and eating behaviors in the total sample. Results: Adjusted for covariates, adverse life events were associated with more emotional overeating and restrained eating in children (p-values for trend <.01). Specifically, mothers who reported that their child experienced 3+ adverse life events, also reported significantly higher emotional overeating (B = 0.20; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.06–0.33) and restrained eating (B = 0.21; 95% CI, 0.08–0.33) in their children relative to children who did not experience adverse life events. These results did not differ by sex. Discussion: Our results based on mother-reported data suggest that children's experiences of life adversities are associated with emotional overeating and restrained eating at age 10 years. We recommend future prospective studies using multi-informant assessments of both adverse life events and eating behaviors to further describe the nature and developmental course of this relationship.

Additional Metadata
Keywords adverse childhood experiences, child behavior, cohort studies, emotional regulation, feeding and eating disorders, feeding and eating disorders of children, psychological distress
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1002/eat.23351, hdl.handle.net/1765/129158
Journal International Journal of Eating Disorders
Citation
Thomas, R. (Robin), Siliquini, R. (Roberta), Hillegers, M.H.J, & Jansen, P.W. (2020). The association of adverse life events with children's emotional overeating and restrained eating in a population-based cohort. International Journal of Eating Disorders. doi:10.1002/eat.23351