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OBJECTIVE: This study examined whether sexual and physical abuse, bullying by peers, and ethnicity-based discrimination are associated with an increased risk for developing binge eating disorder in black women and in white women and whether any increase in risk is specific for the development of binge eating disorder. METHOD: A community sample of 162 women with binge eating disorder and 251 healthy and 107 psychiatric comparison subjects was interviewed for exposure to the risk factors under investigation. RESULTS: White subjects with binge eating disorder reported significantly higher rates of sexual abuse, physical abuse, bullying by peers, and discrimination than healthy comparison subjects. Only rates of discrimination were significantly higher in white women with binge eating disorder than in matched psychiatric comparison subjects. In black women with binge eating disorder, rates of sexual abuse, physical abuse, and bullying by peers-but not discrimination-were significantly higher than in healthy comparison women. Rates of sexual abuse were significantly higher in black women with binge eating disorder than in psychiatric comparison subjects. CONCLUSIONS: Consistent with previous research examining ethnicity-specific patterns of risk for psychiatric disorder, we found both ethnic similarities (physical abuse and bullying by peers) and differences (sexual abuse and discrimination) in the risk for binge eating disorder.

Original publication




Journal article


Am J Psychiatry

Publication Date





1902 - 1907


Adult, African Americans, Bulimia, Child, Child Abuse, Child Abuse, Sexual, Dominance-Subordination, European Continental Ancestry Group, Female, Humans, Peer Group, Personality Assessment, Prejudice, Risk Factors, Violence