Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California


UC San Francisco Previously Published Works bannerUCSF

Adverse childhood experiences among adults with eating disorders: comparison to a nationally representative sample and identification of trauma.

Published Web Location
No data is associated with this publication.


Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are prevalent, impact long-term physical and mental health, and are associated with eating disorders (EDs) in adulthood. The primary objectives of the current study were: (1) to examine and compare ACEs between two samples: treatment-seeking adults, and a nationally representative sample of adults, (2) to characterize ACEs items and total scores across demographic and diagnostic information in adults seeking treatment for an ED, (3) to statistically classify ACEs profiles using latent class analysis, and (4) to examine associations between ACEs profiles and diagnosis.


This cross-sectional study assessed patients with a DSM-5 ED receiving treatment between October 2018 and April 2020 at the inpatient, residential, or partial hospitalization levels of care at one of two private ED treatment facilities. ACEs were assessed with the Adverse Childhood Experiences Survey at admission. Generalized linear models and Welch's t-tests were used to compare ACEs in the current sample with national estimates. A latent class analysis was conducted to examine subgroups of ACEs responses, and differences in these classes by ED diagnoses were examined with multinomial logistic regression.


Patients with EDs had significantly higher ACEs scores (M = 1.95, SD = 1.90) than the nationally representative sample (M = 1.57, SD = 4.72; t = 6.42, p < .001). Within patients with EDs, four latent classes of ACEs item endorsement were identified. Patients with other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED) and binge eating disorder (BED) were more likely to fall into the "Household ACEs" and "Abuse ACEs" groups, respectively, compared to anorexia nervosa-restricting subtype (AN-R).


Patients with EDs reported more ACEs than the nationally representative sample, and differences in total ACEs and latent class membership were found across ED diagnoses. The current study can inform the development of trauma-informed care for patients with EDs.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Item not freely available? Link broken?
Report a problem accessing this item