Assessing the Relationship Between Problematic Eating and Alcohol Use Behaviors Among National Eating Disorders Screening Program Participants
Type of DegreeThesis
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Research has shown that college students have elevated rates of alcohol use and problematic eating behaviors. These behaviors show high rates of comorbidity. Further, research suggests that individuals with bulimia and the binge-purge subtype of anorexia show elevated levels of impulsivity and sensation seeking compared to individuals with restricting anorexia. The current study focused on the relationships between problematic eating behaviors, alcohol use, and impulsivity among a sample of undergraduates attending National Eating Disorder Screening Program. All participants (n=88, 80% female, average age 20.5) completed a packet of measure assessing substance use, eating behaviors, and impulsivity. Dieting was positively correlated to both alcohol-related problems and the frequency of binge drinking. Conversely, a scale measuring anorexic like behaviors was negatively correlated with the frequency of alcohol consumption in the last 30 days. Contrary to hypotheses, the bulimia subscale was not correlated with any of the alcohol variables. Multiple regression analyses revealed that quantity of alcohol consumed and negative consequences related to alcohol use were predictive of the problematic eating behavior and dieting, and that impulsivity was significantly correlated with measures of alcohol related problems and the dieting. Though not all of our hypotheses were supported, the results of this study show that problematic eating behaviors (i.e., dieting) are associated with increased risk for alcohol use problems. The unexpected relationship between alcohol use and dieting may provide direction for future research.