Examining personal and environmental factors related to the co-occurrence of heavy episodic drinking and disordered eating behaviors among college students
The co-occurrence of heavy episodic drinking (HED) and disordered eating behaviors (DEB) is both common and dangerous. Because of its' high prevalence and subsequent link to negative health outcomes, these behaviors have attracted the recent attention of university administrators, researchers, and clinicians. Additionally, sexual objectification and self-objectification have become prominent issues in our society that are impossible to escape and are associated with many negative behaviors. To date, most campus programs do not target these behaviors within the context of a reciprocal relationship and no existing campus programs target these behaviors in light of objectification. The main purpose of this study is to examine objectification-related personal and environmental factors associated with the co-occurrence of HED and DEBs in college students. The present study utilized a quantitative, cross-sectional design (n=667) and classroom survey research. Overall, 276 (41.4 percent) respondents reported being engaging in co-occurring HED and DEBs in the past month and a total of 97.9 percent (653 participants) of the sample reported experiencing sexual objectification within the past year. Alcohol outcome expectancies were the strongest predictor of co-occurrence of HED and DEBs (B;=1.015; p<0.001; Odds ratio=2.759), objectification-related constructs were found to significantly predict co-occurrence as well. Further, body shame and expectancies partially mediated relationships between multiple variables under study. Lastly, media consumption significantly moderated the relationship between body shame and thinness and restricting expectancies. This study has promising implications for health education practitioners, university administrators, and health policy experts and provides significant insight for future research. Coordinated efforts are needed to change the social and cultural environment on college campuses and to educate individuals about the potential effects of objectification on their physical, social, and emotional development in an attempt to increase healthy behaviors.