Category: Child / Adolescent - Anxiety

PS2- #B50 - The Moderating Effect of Emotional Eating on the Relationship Between Anxiety and Childhood Obesity

Friday, Nov 17
9:45 AM – 10:45 AM
Location: Indigo Ballroom CDGH, Level 2, Indigo Level

Keywords: Child Anxiety | GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) | Obesity / Overweight

Childhood obesity is a serious and fast-growing health issue that can increase risk for illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. The resulting medical costs are also of great concern, as is exposure to bullying and discrimination. Proper treatment and prevention is paramount. Some literature explores the relationship between childhood obesity and psychological distress, suggesting that overeating can occur in an attempt to relieve feelings of anxiety or depression and create a path toward obesity. Therefore, we hypothesized that anxiety in children would be related to high body mass index (BMI) with emotional eating moderating this relationship. In order to investigate this theory, families (N=61) were recruited for participation from the waiting rooms of physicians' offices. Upon determining eligibility, parents and children were asked to complete questionnaires assessing anxiety and eating behavior. The child’s height and weight was provided by medical staff. Contrary to the hypothesis, generalized anxiety disorder symptoms in youth were negatively correlated with BMI, r = -.262, p < .05. Emotional eating was not significantly related to BMI, nor did it serve to moderate the effects of GAD symptoms on BMI. Implications as well as areas of further research will be discussed.

Karina L. Chacon

Staff
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
Harlingen, Texas

Laura Seligman

Associate Professor
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
Edinburg, Texas

Michiyo Hirai

Associate Professor
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Ruby Charak

Assistant Professor
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
Edinburg, Texas

Joseph D. Hovey

Professor & Chair
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
Edinburg, Texas