The role of stress in the association among food insecurity, eating disorder pathology, and binge eating-related appetitive traits

Jacqueline A. Kosmas, Jennifer E. Wildes, Andrea K. Graham, Shannon M. O'Connor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: Growing literature demonstrates a positive association between food insecurity (FI) and eating disorder pathology. Additionally, FI has been associated with two appetitive traits strongly linked to binge eating, food responsiveness and emotional overeating. However, little research has investigated factors that might help to explain these associations. One hypothesis is that experiencing FI may increase stress, and that eating disorder pathology, particularly binge eating-related phenotypes, may serve as a coping strategy. This study explores stress as a potential mechanism in the association between FI and general eating disorder pathology, as well as two appetitive traits strongly associated with binge eating (food responsiveness and emotional overeating). Methods: Cis-gender women (N = 634) completed online questionnaires assessing FI, stress, eating disorder pathology (measured via the total score on the Short Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire), and binge eating-related appetitive traits (measured via the Adult Eating Behavior Questionnaire). Cross-sectional indirect effects analyses with a 1000-sample bootstrap were used to test pathways among FI, stress, and eating-related constructs. Results: FI was significantly associated with eating disorder pathology and associated appetitive traits (ps < 0.001). Stress explained a significant proportion of the correlation between FI and each eating-related construct. Conclusions: Our findings extend prior research on the relationships between FI, eating disorder pathology, and binge eating-related appetitive traits to provide preliminary evidence that stress may act as an underlying mechanism. Future studies should use longitudinal designs to assess the prospective relationships among these constructs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101709
JournalEating Behaviors
Volume49
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2023

Keywords

  • Appetitive traits
  • Binge eating
  • Eating disorder pathology
  • Food insecurity
  • Stress

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