Carolina C.A.R.E.S. Presents Research at Annual Eating Disorder Research Society Conference

Jessica Baker, Ph.D.

October 22, 2019

In September, four Carolina C.A.R.E.S team members presented research they conducted at the annual Eating Disorder Research Society (EDRS) Conference. EDRS is an international professional organization of researchers in the field of eating disorders. The purpose of the organization is to hold an annual scientific meeting during which the most recent research in the eating disorders field is presented and discussed. EDRS brings together the top scientific minds in the eating disorders field.

There were a number of outstanding presentations this year at EDRS, including a number from Carolina C.A.R.E.S. The purpose of Carolina C.A.R.E.S. is to examine mental health in college students and what factors contribute to how well students do during their college years. Although college can be an exciting time, for some individuals, this period can also be a high-risk time for the development of problems associated with emotional and mental health. Carolina C.A.R.E.S. seeks to understand these factors for UNC students. Along with research, a second mission of C.A.R.E.S. is to provide UNC students and fellows with opportunities to engage in research and obtain training and mentorship in conducting research. Three research presentations at EDRS included independent research projects completed by current and former Carolina C.A.R.E.S. trainees. Carolina C.A.R.E.S. Co-Principal Investigator, Dr. Melissa Munn-Chernoff, also presented her work at EDRS. A summary of this research is described below. If you are interested in learning more about Carolina C.A.R.E.S. or are a first-year UNC student who is at least 18 years of age and interested in joining Carolina C.A.R.E.S., please visit our website You can also find the EDRS research abstracts shown below on the website.

Dr. Melissa Munn-Chernoff and Leigh Brosof (former summer research fellow): Comorbidity of Eating Disorder PATHOLOGY and Alcohol Use: A Network Analysis Approach

Figure 1JB

Kathrin Hennigan (former undergraduate trainee; primary mentor, Dr. Melissa Munn-Chernoff): EATING DISORDER SYMPTOMS AND E-CIGARETTE USE MOTIVES IN COLLEGIATE E-CIGARETTE USERS

A picture containing indoor

Description automatically generated

Introduction: To explore associations between eating disorder symptoms and e-cigarette use and e-cigarette use motives among college students. Methods:This study included 716 college students (Mage=19.23, SD=1.65; 61% women). Students completed the Eating Pathology Symptoms Inventory, a vaping questionnaire, and the Drinking Motives Questionnaire-Revised modified for vaping via an online survey. We used t-tests to examine ED symptoms in lifetime (and past-month) e-cigarette users vs. non-users, Pearson correlations to examine associations between ED symptoms and vaping motives, and linear regressions to investigate the influence of biological sex on findings. Results: Nearly 23% of students reported lifetime vaping; 9.5% reported past-month vaping. No significant associations emerged between ED symptoms and e-cigarette use. However, purging was significantly related to coping motives for vaping after adjusting for sex (β=1.09, SE=.40, t=2.76, q=.0412). Conclusions: The relation between purging and coping motives for vaping could suggest a need for alternate coping strategies in those with this comorbidity.

Sabrina Hardin (former undergraduate trainee; primary mentor, Dr. Jessica Baker): PREMENSTRUAL SYMPTOMS AS A MARKER OF OVARIAN HORMONE SENSITIVITY IN EATING DISORDERS

A group of people posing for the camera

Description automatically generated

Introduction: Research indicates a link between ovarian hormones and eating pathology, suggesting that some women with an eating disorder may be ovarian hormone sensitive. Using premenstrual symptoms (PMS) as an indirect measure of ovarian hormone sensitivity, this study investigated the association between 11 PMS domains and four core eating disorder symptoms: body dissatisfaction, binge eating, purging, and restriction. Method: Participants were young adult women (N=455) who completed an online survey. PMS were assessed using the Daily Record of Severity of Problems and eating pathology with the Eating Pathology Symptoms Inventory. Pearson correlations were calculated between PMS domains and eating disorder symptoms followed by a stepwise regression to create a more refined model for each eating disorder symptom, including relevant covariates. Results: Significant correlations between a majority of ED symptoms and PMS emerged (r’s=.09-.37; p<.05). Backward regression revealed significant PMS domain predictors for each symptom. The PMS domains captured a small-to-moderate amount of variance for each eating disorder symptom (R2=.07-.22). Conclusions: Women who experience physical and psychological PMS may be at risk for eating disorder symptoms; PMS could be a marker of ovarian hormone sensitivity in women at risk for an eating disorder. Future studies should address mechanisms underlying this association.

Dr. Grace Wu (current Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders postdoctoral fellow; primary mentor, Dr. Jessica Baker): ASSOCIATION BETWEEN BODY DISSATISFCTION AND FOOD ADDICTION AMONG COLLEGE STUDENTS: THE MEDIATING ROLE OF EATING EXPECTANCIES

A group of people standing in front of a computer

Description automatically generated

Introduction: A positive association between body dissatisfaction and food addiction (i.e., an addiction to compulsively overeat highly palatable foods) in college students exists. However, little is known about the underlying mechanisms. Eating expectancies, one’s learning history regarding the association between eating and its consequences, may provide potential pathways linking body dissatisfaction and food addiction. Methods: In the current study, five eating expectancies (i.e., eating helps manage negative affect, eating is pleasurable and useful as a reward, eating leads to feeling out of control, eating enhances cognitive competence, and eating alleviates boredom) were evaluated as potential mediators between body dissatisfaction and food addiction in 655 college students (mean age=19.23 ± 1.68, 61.2 % female). Adjusting for sex, age, race, and body mass index, structural equation modeling was used to examine the mediation effects of the eating expectancies between body dissatisfaction and food addiction. Results: Body dissatisfaction was positively associated with food addiction (β = 0.24, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.13 – 0.41), and this association was partially mediated by the eating expectancy that eating leads to feeling out of control (β = 0.40, 95% CI = 0.24 – 0.50). Conclusions: Findings suggest the need to address the influence of expecting eating to lead to feeling out of control in interventions for co-occurring body dissatisfaction and food addiction among college students.