Pediatric loss-of-control eating and anxiety in relation to components of metabolic syndrome

Meghan E. Byrne, Marian Tanofsky-Kraff*, Nichole R. Kelly, Anne Claire Grammer, Manuela Jaramillo, Sarah J. Mi, Monika M. Stojek, Lisa M. Shank, Natasha L. Burke, Omni Cassidy, Natasha A. Schvey, Sheila M. Brady, Andrew P. Demidowich, Miranda M. Broadney, Susan Z. Yanovski, Jack A. Yanovski

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Objective Pediatric loss-of-control (LOC) eating is associated with, and predictive of, gains in adiposity and adverse metabolic outcomes. In addition, some preliminary data suggest that anxiety may exacerbate the relationship of LOC eating with weight and metabolic syndrome (MetS)-related measures. We therefore examined whether anxiety moderated the relationship between LOC eating and body mass index z (BMIz), adiposity, and MetS-related measures in youth. Methods A convenience sample of non-treatment-seeking boys and girls of varying weight strata were interviewed to determine the presence of LOC eating and completed a questionnaire assessing trait anxiety. BMIz and MetS-related measures (blood pressure, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, glucose, and insulin) were measured after an overnight fast. Adiposity was assessed by air displacement plethysmography or dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry. Analyses adjusted for age, sex, race, height, fat mass, and depressive symptoms, as appropriate. Results In all, 379 youths (13.0 6 2.8 years; 53% female; BMIz ¼ 0.8 6 1.1; 22% with LOC eating) were studied. Anxiety was not significantly related to BMIz, adiposity, or MetS-related measures. However, anxiety and LOC eating interacted such that only among youth with LOC eating, anxiety was positively associated with fasting insulin (p ¼ .02) and insulin resistance (p ¼ .01). The interaction of anxiety and LOC eating was not significantly related to BMIz, adiposity, or any other MetS-related measure (ps ¼ ns). Conclusions Only among non-treatment-seeking youth with LOC eating, anxiety may be associated with increased insulin secretion and insulin resistance. Longitudinal studies are required to confirm these findings and explore mechanisms for these relationships.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)220-228
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Pediatric Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Anxiety
  • Loss of control eating
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Obesity
  • Pediatrics


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