Blackwell Publishing Inc.
Objective: Lower socioeconomic status is robustly associated with obesity; however, the underpinning psychological mechanisms remain unclear. The current study sought to determine whether the relationship between lower socioeconomic status and obesity is explained by psychological distress and subsequent emotional eating as a coping strategy. It also examined whether psychological resilience plays a protective role in this pathway. Methods: Participants (N = 150) from a range of socioeconomic backgrounds completed questionnaire measures of psychological distress, emotional eating, and resilience. They reported their income and education level as an indicator of socioeconomic status and their height and weight in order to calculate BMI. Results: There was a significant indirect effect of socioeconomic status on BMI via psychological distress and emotional eating; specifically, lower socioeconomic status was associated with higher distress, higher distress was associated with higher emotional eating, and higher emotional eating was associated with higher BMI (b [SE] = −0.02 [0.01]; 95% CI: −0.04 to −0.01). However, resilience was not a significant moderator of this association. Conclusions: Psychological distress and subsequent emotional eating represent a serial pathway that links lower socioeconomic status with obesity. Targeting these maladaptive coping behaviors may be one strategy to reduce obesity in low-income populations. © 2019 The Authors. Obesity published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of The Obesity Society (TOS)
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