Are you an apple or a pear?
A new study has shown that women with apple-shaped bodies, those who store the most fat in their torso and abdominal regions, may be at particular risk when it comes to eating episodes during which they experience a sense of “loss of control.”
The research, conducted at Drexel University, found that women who have greater belly fat stores are less satisfied with their bodies, a factor that can contribute to a loss of dietary control. Examination of central body fat deposition as a risk factor for loss of dietary control was published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It is the first investigation into the connections between fat distribution, body image perception and the development of eating disorders.
How is eating with loss of control defined? Experts say feeling motivated or compelled to keep eating or finding it hard to stop once you start eating means a loss of control.
The lead author, Dr. Laura Berner said that this loss of control is the most significant element of binge eating episodes, no matter how much food is consumed.
The results indicate that the storage of body fat in the trunk and abdominal regions, rather than in other parts of the body, is strongly predictive of the development of loss of food control and worsens over time. Higher percentages of fat stored in central regions and body dissatisfaction can serve as maintenance or exacerbation of loss of dietary control.
Berner said the sense of loss of control is experienced in a number of eating disorder diagnoses, such as bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder and the binge eating/purging subtype of anorexia nervosa.
She wanted to find out whether a measurable biological trait could help predict who develops this feeling, as her research has shown that “individuals who feel a sense of loss of control over eating but do not yet have an eating disorder are more likely to develop an eating disorder.” ”.
Early detection of such an eating disorder and subsequent treatment is more likely to be successful.
Berner said his research suggests that “targeting individuals who store the most belly fat and adapting psychological interventions to specifically focus on body fat distribution may be beneficial in preventing eating disorders.”
Using a large dataset that followed college freshmen for two years, the researchers preliminarily investigated whether body fat distribution is linked to body dissatisfaction over time and increases the risk of developing or worsening food control loss.
The nearly 300 young adult women completed assessments at baseline, six months and 24 months, which looked at height, weight and percentage of total body fat and where it is distributed. Participants, none of whom met diagnostic criteria for eating disorders at baseline, were assessed for disordered eating behaviors through standardized clinical interviews in which experiences of a sense of loss of control were self-reported.
The researchers found that women with higher central fat stores, regardless of total body mass and levels of depression, were more likely to develop loss of eating control and demonstrated steadier increases in the frequency of eating out of control episodes over the course of their lifetime. time. Women with a higher percentage of body fat stored in the trunk region were also less satisfied with their bodies, regardless of total weight or level of depression.
“The results suggest that centralized fat deposition increased the risk of disordered eating above and beyond other known risk factors,” Berner said. “The specificity of our findings for centralized fat deposition was also surprising. For example, a one-unit increase in the percentage of body fat stored in the abdominal region was associated with a 53% increase in the risk of developing loss of dietary control over the next two years, whereas total body fat percentage did not predict the development of loss of food control”.
According to Berner, more research is needed to explain the mechanism behind these findings, although she speculates that there are several reasons why this could happen.
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