Category: Eating Disorders
Objective: Children who are obese demonstrate increased risk for anxiety and eating pathology. Research in adult samples suggests that specific aspects of social anxiety may differentially relate to eating pathology. Less work has been done in pediatric samples. Given limited prior investigation and statistical limitations associated with multicollinearity in closely related constructs, the current study addressed two aims: (1) evaluate the relative importance of social anxiety symptoms for eating disorder risk among treatment-seeking youth who were obese, and (2) improve upon prior statistical approaches for assessing relative importance of interrelated social anxiety variables.
Methods: Forty-two youth (Mage=12.95 years; Range=6-18 years; MBMIz-score=2.54)from a multidisciplinary outpatient pediatric obesity clinic completed a questionnaire assessing dimensions of social anxiety and the Children’s Eating Attitudes Test (ChEAT). Parent-reported child anxiety symptoms were also assessed using the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL). Dominance analysis models were used to test the relative importance of social anxiety facets on ChEAT subscales: Dieting, Food Preoccupation, Oral Control, and Restriction/Purging.
Results: Of three possible facets of social anxiety, Fear of Negative Evaluation emerged as the most important, relative to the other facets examined (e.g., Social Anxiety and Distress in General Social Situations and Social Anxiety and Distress in New Social Situations). Specifically, children’s Fear of Negative Evaluation scores accounted for up to 70% of variance within the dominance models, demonstrating total dominance over other anxiety facets in predicting Dieting and Food Preoccupation subscales from the ChEAT.
Conclusions: Unique facets of social anxiety may differentially relate to disordered eating in children who are obese. Findings from this investigation suggest that increased attention to fears of negative evaluation and judgement may inform models of eating pathology risk in pediatric obesity samples. Moreover, results indicate nuanced intervention targeting social anxiety symptoms in pediatric obesity treatment settings is an important endeavor for children at risk for disordered eating outcomes.
Lisa Anderson– Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Minnesota; University at Albany – State University of New York, Albany, New York
Crystal Lim– University of Mississippi Medical Center
Nina Wong Sarver– University of Mississippi Medical Center
Sophie Lanciers– University of Mississippi Medical Center
University of Minnesota; University at Albany – State University of New York
Albany, New York