Examination of central body fat deposition as a risk factor for loss-of-control eating

Laura A. Berner, Danielle Arigo, Laurel E.S. Mayer, David B. Sarwer, Michael R. Lowe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Elevated body mass index (BMI), higher waist-to-hip ratio, and body dissatisfaction have been investigated as risk factors for the development of bulimic symptoms. Central fat deposition may be particularly relevant to eating disorders. To our knowledge, the longitudinal relations between fat distribution, body dissatisfaction, and loss-of-control (LOC) eating development and maintenance have not been studied. Objective: We examined body fat distribution, independent of BMI and depressive symptoms, as a unique correlate and predictor of body dissatisfaction and LOC eating cross-sectionally and over a 2-y follow-up. Design: Body composition was measured by using dual-energy Xray absorptiometry in 294 adult women at risk of weight gain at baseline, 6 mo, and 24 mo. We assessed LOC eating, body dissatisfaction, and depressive symptoms at baseline, 6 wk, 6 mo, 12 mo, and 24 mo by using the Eating Disorder Diagnostic Interview, the Multidimensional Body-Self Relations Questionnaire-Appearance Scales Body Areas Satisfaction subscale, and the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale, respectively. Results: Independent of BMI, baseline total percentage body fat, percentage trunk fat, and percentage abdominal fat were related to greater body dissatisfaction. Total percentage body fat and trunk fat tended to be associated with greater body dissatisfaction at all subsequent time points. Women with a greater percentage trunk fat, specifically abdominal fat, were at highest risk of developing LOC eating. In the full sample, women with higher baseline percentage trunk and abdominal fat showed increases in LOC eating episode frequency over time, whereas LOC eating frequency remained stable among women with smaller percentages of fat in trunk and abdominal regions. Conclusion: These findings lend further support to the premise that increased central body fat deposition is associated with body image dissatisfaction and suggest that it may represent a risk and maintenance factor for LOC eating. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials. gov as NCT00456131.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)736-744
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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