A team of researchers from the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona have been looking into the links between disordered eating and childhood physical and sexual abuse. They studied 708 female undergraduates aged between 18 and 30 asking them about traumatic events in their past and about their current attitudes to food and their weight. The study found that 14.3% of the sample had suffered childhood sexual abuse and 3.8% childhood physical abuse. The women who had been sexually abused as children were more concerned about weight, however, once depression, anxiety, self-esteem, body-mass index, age and socioeconomic status were taken into account there was no link between sexual abuse and disordered eating behaviours. Childhood physical abuse was associated with a decreased risk of disordered eating and the researchers thought that this was because women who had been physically abused were more concerned with just having a safe, healthy body rather than their weight or physical appearance.
Villarroel, Ana M. ... [et al] - Childhood physical and sexual abuse in Spanish female undergraduates: does it affect eating disturbances? European Eating Disorders Review DOI: 10.1002/erv.1086