Date of Award

Summer 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Virginia Consortium Program in Clinical Psychology

Committee Director

Kristin E. Heron

Committee Member

Jennifer M. Flaherty

Committee Member

Robin J. Lewis

Committee Member

James M. Henson


Binge eating is a prominent concern with 2.8 million Americans meeting criteria for binge eating disorder and an additional 10-15% reporting loss of control and overeating behaviors that fail to meet diagnostic criteria. Despite the risk associated with binge eating in emerging adulthood, studies exploring differences in binge eating between Black and White college women have been limited. Black women may be more likely than White women to deny disordered eating behaviors, such as binge eating, due to pressure to reflect historical body positive ideals and heightened stigma regarding mental health issues in Black communities. Denial is worthy of attention because, according to an interpersonal formulation of eating disorder maintenance and etiology, engaging in binge eating increases interpersonal problems; in turn, these interpersonal problems are believed to intensify disordered eating. The primary goal of this study was to offer insight into similarities or differences in binge eating between Black and White college women, and whether denial of disordered eating can assist in explaining interpersonal formulations of disordered eating. The current research study included a baseline survey and 14 days of ecological momentary assessment (EMA). Three EMA assessments were completed each day. Black (n=35) and White (n=37) college women in young adulthood that were screened for engagement in denial of disordered eating reported on interpersonal factors, denial, engagement in binge eating, and help-seeking attitudes. There were no significant differences between races on attitudes towards help-seeking and denial of disordered eating at baseline. EMA results suggested that denial of disordered eating during the day was negatively associated with positive social interactions during the day and positive social interactions during the day were negatively associated with overeating at night. In addition, occurrence of social interaction and more positive social interactions during the day were negatively associated with negative affect during the day. Denial of disordered during the day was also positively associated with the occurrence of social interactions during the day and loss of control eating at night. Race moderated a relation between valence of social interactions and negative affect, such that this negative association was stronger for Black women. This study may contribute to the goal of understanding the impacts of denial in daily life and the development of prevention and intervention programs better suited to address disordered eating in young women; for example, future treatment may contain psychoeducation on the effects of denial or the importance of honest communication.


The VIRGINIA CONSORTIUM PROGRAM IN CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY is a joint program of Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk State University, and Old Dominion University.


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