Depressive Symptoms and Food Intake among Weight-Preoccupied Women: Do Eating Behaviors and Attitudes or BMI Mediate This Association?


Associations between depressive symptoms, dysfunctional eating behaviors and attitudes, higher food intake and body mass index (BMI) have been previously observed. However, few studies have assessed these variables in the same study. The first objective is to compare, in a natural setting environment, the profile of women reporting lower or higher levels of depressive symptoms in terms of food intake, eating behaviors and attitudes, and BMI. The second objective is to test mediational models for which the link between depressive symptoms and food intake would be mediated by eating behaviors and attitudes or BMI. Weight-preoccupied women were recruited (n = 323), and their level of depressive symptoms was assessed using the Beck Depression Inventory. The median score was used to create two groups (lower ≤ 13; higher > 13). A web-based food-frequency questionnaire, the Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire, and the Intuitive Eating Scale were completed. BMI was calculated from reported body weight and height. Compared to women with a lower level of depressive symptoms, those with a higher level of depressive symptoms reported a higher energy intake (p = 0.02), and a higher consumption of savoury foods (p = 0.02). These women also had higher scores of disinhibition (p < 0.0001) and susceptibility to hunger (p = 0.0002), ate less intuitively (p < 0.03), and had a higher BMI (p = 0.005). Association between depressive symptoms and energy intake was mediated by disinhibition, susceptibility to hunger and eating for physical rather than emotional reasons, while the role of BMI was less clear. Regarding another component of food intake, association between depressive symptoms and consumption of savoury foods was mediated by disinhibition and eating for physical rather than emotional reasons. In summary, it seems essential to be aware of the presence of depressive symptoms and to pay attention to eating behaviors and attitudes in interventions among weight-preoccupied women.

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Maltais-Giguère, J. , Bégin, C. , Gagnon-Girouard, M. , Daoust, M. and Provencher, V. (2014) Depressive Symptoms and Food Intake among Weight-Preoccupied Women: Do Eating Behaviors and Attitudes or BMI Mediate This Association?. Health, 6, 2802-2813. doi: 10.4236/health.2014.620319.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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