Objective: Loss of control (LOC) eating and a weight control attempt (WCA) history during adolescence are important behavioral risk factors for eating disorders and obesity. The current study investigated the significance of the presence of a WCA history among adolescent girls with LOC eating. Method: Participants were 114 obesity-prevention-seeking 12-17-year-old (M = 14.5, SD = 1.7 years) girls who were between the 75th and 97th body mass index (BMI) percentile (BMI-z: M = 1.5, SD = 0.3) and reported LOC eating episodes during the previous month (M = 4.0, SD = 4.9 episodes; Median = 2.0). Measures included the Eating Disorder Examination to assess LOC eating, eating pathology, and WCA history, and self-report questionnaires for symptoms of general psychopathology. Eating behavior was observed during a laboratory meal designed to capture a LOC eating episode. Results: 67.5% reported a WCA history. As compared to girls without a WCA history (no-WCA), those with a WCA history (WCA) had greater disordered eating attitudes and depressive symptoms (ps < .04). There were no significant group differences in BMI-z or LOC eating frequency (ps > .10). During the laboratory meal, WCA consumed less energy from snack-type foods than no-WCA (M = 245.0, SD = 156.1 vs. M = 341.6, SD = 192.3 kcal; p = .01). Conclusions: Reported WCAs are highly prevalent and are associated with greater psychopathology symptoms among adolescent girls with LOC eating. Prospective data are needed to determine whether these overlapping risk behaviors confer differential vulnerability for developing eating disorders and obesity.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Applied Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health