Unravelling the association between inhibitory control and loss of control over eating among adolescents.

Eva van Malderen, Lien Goossens, Sandra Verbeken, Eva Kemps

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective: Loss of control over eating is common among adolescents and is associated with negative developmental outcomes. Recent evidence points to impaired self-regulation, and more specifically poor inhibitory control, as a contributing factor to loss of control over eating among adults; however evidence in adolescent samples is limited. Moreover, in line with dual-process models, researchers have recently started to investigate the moderating role of automatic processes in this relationship, but again studies in adolescents are lacking. Therefore, the aim of the current study was to: (1) investigate whether there is an association between poor inhibitory control and loss of control over eating also among adolescents, and (2) explore whether this relationship is moderated by automatic processing. Method: A community sample of 124 adolescents (10–17 years; 65.3% girls; M age = 14 years; SD = 1.90) was divided into a ‘Loss of Control Group’ (n = 30) and a ‘No Loss of Control Group’ (n = 94) based on a clinical interview. Inhibitory control and automatic processing (general and food specific) were measured by self-report questionnaires. Results: Adolescents in the Loss of Control Group reported significantly more problems with overall self-regulation compared to the No Loss of Control Group; however, there was no group difference for inhibition specifically. Contrary to dual-process predictions, there was a trend significant interaction between poor inhibitory control and weaker food specific automatic processing in explaining loss of control over eating. Conclusions: Evidence was found for problems with overall self-regulation in adolescents with loss of control over eating. Concerning the specific role of inhibitory control, future studies should replicate whether automatic processing is indeed a crucial moderator.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-409
Number of pages9
JournalAppetite
Volume125
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018

Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Automatic processing
  • Inhibitory control
  • Loss of control over eating
  • Self-regulation

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