Obesity and overweight are associated with many negative health outcomes. Attachment style has been implicated in the development of obesity in youth. The present study examined if disordered eating behaviors mediate the relationship between attachment style and body mass index (BMI) in a large community sample of Canadian youth.Method:
A total of 3,043 participants (1,254 males and 1,789 females, Mage = 14.20 years) completed self-report questionnaires including the Relationship Questionnaire and the Dutch Eating Behavior Questionnaire, and BMI was objectively measured. Disordered eating behaviors (restrained, emotional, and external) were examined as possible mediating mechanisms in the relationship between attachment style and BMI z-score, using a multiple mediation model using bootstrapping while controlling for socio-demographic covariates.Results:
Insecure attachment was significantly associated with higher BMI, and disordered eating mediated this relationship. Restrained eating was the strongest mediator of this pathway.Conclusion:
Results suggest that it may be important to take attachment history and restrained eating into account when designing treatment and prevention strategies for obesity in youth.