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Adverse childhood experiences and binge-eating disorder in early adolescents



Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are common and linked to negative health outcomes. Previous studies have found associations between ACEs and binge-eating disorder (BED), though they have mainly focused on adults and use cross-sectional data. The objective of this study was to examine the associations between ACEs and BED in a large, national cohort of 9-14-year-old early adolescents in the US.


We analyzed prospective cohort data from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study (N = 10,145, 2016-2020). Logistic regression analyses were used to determine the associations between self-reported ACEs and BED based on the Kiddie Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia at two-year follow-up, adjusting for sex, race/ethnicity, baseline household income, parental education, site, and baseline binge-eating disorder.


In the sample, (49% female, 46% racial/ethnic minority), 82.8% of adolescents reported at least one ACE and 1.2% had a diagnosis of BED at two-year follow-up. The mean number of ACEs was higher in those with a diagnosis of BED compared to those without (2.6 ± 0.14 vs 1.7 ± 0.02). The association between number of ACEs and BED in general had a dose-response relationship. One ACE (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 3.48, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.11-10.89), two ACEs (aOR 3.88, 95% CI 1.28-11.74), and three or more ACEs (aOR 8.94, 95% CI 3.01-26.54) were all associated with higher odds of BED at two-year follow-up. When stratified by types of ACEs, history of household mental illness (aOR 2.18, 95% 1.31-3.63), household violence (aOR 2.43, 95% CI 1.42-4.15), and criminal household member (aOR 2.14, 95% CI 1.23-3.73) were most associated with BED at two-year follow-up.


Children and adolescents who have experienced ACEs, particularly household challenges, have higher odds of developing BED. Clinicians may consider screening for ACEs and providing trauma-focused care when evaluating patients for BED.

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