Mediation of emotional and external eating between dieting and food intake or BMI gain in women.


Department of Primary and Community Care, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Nijmegen, the Netherlands. Electronic address: [Email]


OBJECTIVE : Dieting to control body weight is often associated with weight gain, particularly so in women; however, the underlying mechanisms are unclear. In a series of studies on women, we examined whether the relationship between dieting and weight gain can be explained by (serial) mediation of emotional eating (EE) and/or subsequent external eating (EX).
METHODS : In a pilot study (116 women), we first assessed this (serial) mediation between dieting or dietary restraint and actual food consumption in the laboratory. In Study 1, a four-year follow up on patients with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes (51 women), we assessed this (serial) mediation between dietary restraint and change in BMI and intake of energy (Kcal; Food Frequency Questionnaire). In Study 2, a three-year follow up study in a representative Dutch sample (287 women), we assessed this (serial) mediation between dieting and change in BMI.
RESULTS : There was consistent support for (serial) mediation: In the pilot study, frequency of dieting and dietary restraint were both indirectly associated with grams of crackers eaten through EE and EX. In study 1, dietary restraint had a significant (95% CI) indirect association with subsequent change in measured BMI and a marginally (90% CI) significant indirect association with intake of energy through EE and EX. In study 2, EE marginally (90% CI) acted as a mediator between frequency of dieting and subsequent self-reported change in BMI. In the subsample of overweight women (n = 146) frequency of dieting was indirectly associated with subsequent self-reported change in BMI through EE and EX.
CONCLUSIONS : The possibility that female dieters may gain weight through EE and/or subsequent EX should be taken into account when treating women with overweight or obesity.


(Serial) mediation,Dieting,Emotional eating,External eating,Weight gain,Women,

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