Date of this Version
Comprehensive Psychiatry 76 (2017), pp. 36–44.
Background: The interpersonal model of loss of control (LOC) eating proposes that interpersonal problems lead to negative affect, which in turn contributes to the onset and/or persistence of LOC eating. Despite preliminary support, there are no data examining the construct validity of the interpersonal model of LOC eating using temporally sensitive reports of social stress, distinct negative affective states, and laboratory energy intake.
Method: 117 healthy adolescent girls (BMI: 75th–97th %ile) were recruited for a prevention trial targeting excess weight gain in adolescent girls who reported LOC eating. Prior to the intervention, participants completed questionnaires of recent social stress and consumed lunch from a multi-item laboratory test meal. Immediately before the test meal, participants completed a questionnaire of five negative affective states (anger, confusion, depression, fatigue, anxiety). Bootstrapping mediation models were conducted to evaluate pre-meal negative affect states as explanatory mediators of the association between recent social stress and palatable (desserts and snack-type) food intake. All analyses adjusted for age, race, pubertal stage, height, fat mass percentage, and lean mass.
Results: Pre-meal state anxiety was a significant mediator for recent social stress and palatable food intake (ps < .05). By contrast, pre-meal state anger, confusion, depression, and fatigue did not mediate the relationship between social stress and palatable food intake (ps > .05).
Discussion: Pre-meal anxiety appears to be the salient mood state for the interpersonal model among adolescent girls with LOC eating. Interventions that focus on improving both social functioning and anxiety may prove most effective at preventing and/or ameliorating disordered eating and obesity in these adolescents.