Background

A sense of loss of control (LOC) over the amount or type of food an individual consumes is the hallmark symptom of binge eating disorder, and is associated with obesity and metabolic dysfunction. Theoretical models indicate that negative affect is a common precipitant to LOC eating. Data from adolescents and young women indicate that weight-related teasing is positively associated with LOC eating. This association has not been evaluated in young men. Young men who report weight-related distress may engage in more frequent LOC eating, particularly if they tend to act impulsively when experiencing negative affect.

Methods

The current study included 1114 racially/ethnically diverse young men (18-30y, M age = 24.11, SD = 3.56; 28.3% non-Hispanic White; 23.4% Black/African American; 24.3% Hispanic/Latino; 23.8% Asian/Asian American; 44% overweight or obese) who completed online surveys all over the country.This cross-sectional study evaluated the association between the distress felt over weight-related teasing and LOC eating frequency in Additional analysis evaluated the moderating effects of emotional impulsivity on this association.

Results

After controlling for age, race, and body mass index, a negative binomial regression indicated that there was a positive association between distress over weight-related teasing and LOC eating frequency (Exp(B) = 1.46, 95% CI 1.40-1.54, p<.001). This association was particularly strong among those high in emotional impulsivity (Exp(B) = .96, 95% CI .93-1.00, p=.047).

Conclusions

Like adolescents and women, men who reported experiencing distress related to weight-related teasing also endorsed more frequent LOC eating. This is particularly true for men who tend to cope with their distress by engaging in impulsive behaviors. Although prospective data are needed to clarify the temporal nature of these variables, these findings underscore the need to reduce weight-related discrimination.