Introduction: Causes of obesity, a leading risk factor for chronic disease morbidity/mortality, are multi-faceted and encompass behavioral and psychological factors. Understanding eating behavior can help target behavioral obesity interventions. The aim of this cross-sectional study was to examine cognitive restraint (CR), uncontrolled eating (UE) and emotional eating (EE) behaviors and body composition in a sample of Chilean young adults.
Methods: Using data from 429 participants of the Santiago Longitudinal Study (mean age 22.5±0.4 years), evaluated from 2016-2017, linear and logistic regression models assessed the independent associations between three eating behavior dimensions, using the Three Factor Eating Questionnaire (1-4 range per dimension), and BMI, % body fat (measured by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry), and central obesity, accounting for demographic covariates, stratified by sex.
Results: The sample was 51% female and had a mean BMI of 26.9±6.1. Mean % body fat was 30.5±7.6 in males and 41.8±6.9 in females. CR and EE eating behaviors were associated with body composition measures as shown in the Table 1. CR was related to a 2.4 (95% CI 1.2, 4.8) and 2.5 (95% CI 1.4, 4.5), respectively, greater odds of being an obese male (>25% body fat) and obese female (>37% body fat). The EE dimension was also significantly associated with percent body fat in both sexes. The greatest effect size in the linear regression models was observed for central obesity. For every point increase in CR, waist circumference increased by 5.1 cm (95% CI 2.1-8.1) and 4.1 cm (95% CI 1.5-6.7) in males and females, respectively. EE was positively associated with central obesity in females.
Conclusions: In this sample of Chilean young adults, CR and EE eating behavior dimensions were associated with obesity, central obesity and% body fat. The UE dimension was not associated with body composition. Understanding the dynamics of and interplay of eating behaviors and body composition can provide evidence for future effective interventions.