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Mindful Attention and Eating Expectancies among College Students with Obesity and a History of Trauma Exposure



Trauma exposure and obesity are highly prevalent among college students and both are associated with disordered eating. There is a need to understand psychological factors that may be related to maladaptive eating behavior among college students with obesity and a history of trauma exposure.


Participants included 139 college students with obesity (defined as a BMI ≥ 30) and a history of trauma exposure (76.3% females; Mage = 25.4 years, SD = 8.07). The current study conducted three separate two-step hierarchical regressions examining mindful attention and its relation to eating expectancies (expectancies of eating to help manage negative affect, expectancies of eating to alleviate boredom, and expectancies of eating to lead to feeling out of control).


Results indicated that lower levels of mindful attention were related to greater levels of expectancies of eating to help manage negative affect (b = − 4.16, SE = 1.08, p = .023, CI95% = − 7.72, − 0.60, sr2 = .04), expectancies of eating to alleviate boredom (b = − 1.09, SE = 0.39, p = .006, CI95% = − 1.86, − 0.32, sr2 = .06), and expectancies of eating to lead to feeling out of control (b = − 1.62, SE = 0.40, p < .001, CI95% = − 2.41, − 0.83, sr2 = .11). Results were observed over, and above variance accounted for by sex (assigned at birth), body mass index (BMI), and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptom severity.


Overall, the results from the present investigation suggest the potential importance and need for future research in the role of mindful attention in relation to several distinct eating expectancies associated with maladaptive eating.

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This work was funded by a pre-doctoral National Research Service Award awarded to Ms. Brooke Kauffman (F31-DA046127).

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BK formulated the hypothesis, conducted the data analysis, and wrote the manuscript with assistance from other authors. AV collaborated in the writing and editing of the final manuscript. JB designed and executed the study and collaborated in the writing and editing of the final manuscript. MZ assisted in design and execution of the study and formulating hypothesis, collaborated in the writing, and editing of the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Michael J. Zvolensky.

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Kauffman, B.Y., Vujanovic, A.A., Bakhshaie, J. et al. Mindful Attention and Eating Expectancies among College Students with Obesity and a History of Trauma Exposure. Mindfulness 11, 2113–2120 (2020).

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  • Mindfulness
  • Eating expectancies
  • Obesity
  • Trauma
  • Young adults