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Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: Overeating styles and adiposity among multiethnic youth

item Ledoux, Tracey
item Watson, Kathy
item Baranowski, Janice
item Tepper, Beverely
item Baranowski, Tom

Submitted to: Appetite
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/19/2010
Publication Date: 2/1/2011
Citation: Ledoux, T., Watson, K., Baranowski, J., Tepper, B., Baranowski, T. 2011. Overeating styles and adiposity among multiethnic youth. Appetite. 56(1):71-77.

Interpretive Summary: Three over-eating styles have been proposed to explain obesity: restrained eating (also called dietary), external eating (due to the influences of cues to food in the environment), and emotional eating (over-eating in responses to being emotionally upset). The research on these scales have been inconsistent, which could have been due to the differences of across studies in the age, gender or ethnicity of the participants, not having controlled for social desirability of response; or using inadequate measures of obesity. This study over came these earlier limitations. Dietary restraint was positively related to adiposity, as would be expected; however, emotional eating was negatively related, after statistically controlling for other variables. The negative relationship between emotional eating and adiposity was stronger among African Americans than among Whites or Hispanics. Age, gender, and social desirability of response were not related with these variables. This was one of the only studies to assess ethnic group differences in these relationships.

Technical Abstract: Reasons for inconsistent associations between overeating styles and adiposity among youth may include differences in effects by age, gender, or ethnicity; failure to control for social desirability of response; or adiposity measurement limitations. This study examined the relationship between overeating styles and multiple measures of adiposity, after controlling for social desirability and testing for moderation by ethnicity, age, and gender. Data from 304, 9-10 year old children and 264, 17-18 year old adolescents equally representing African American, Hispanic, and White ethnic groups were extracted from a larger cross-sectional study. Measures included the Dutch Eating Behavior Questionnaire (restrained, external, and emotional overeating subscales), the "Lie Scale" from the Revised Children's Manifest Anxiety Scale, and measured weight, height, waist circumference, and triceps skinfold. BMI z-score and a global adiposity index were calculated. Mixed model linear regression showed restraint was positively and external eating was negatively related to measures of adiposity. African American youth had a stronger inverse association between emotional eating and adiposity than White or Hispanic youth. Relationships were not influenced by social desirability nor moderated by age or gender. Overeating styles are related to adiposity in nearly all youth but the nature of these associations are moderated by ethnicity.