A cross-sectional examination of executive function and its associations with grazing in persons with obesity with and without eating disorder features compared to a healthy control group

Andreea I. Heriseanu*, Phillipa Hay, Stephen Touyz

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)
    38 Downloads (Pure)

    Abstract

    Purpose
    The current study aimed to investigate associations between grazing and different facets of executive functioning in persons with obesity with and without significant eating disorder psychopathology, compared to a healthy-weight control group.

    Methods
    Eighty-nine participants (of which 20 had obesity and marked eating disorder symptomatology, 25 had obesity but without marked eating disorder symptoms, and 44 were healthy-weight age- and sex-matched participants; N = 89; 66.3% female, age = 28.59 (8.62); 18.18–58.34 years) completed a battery of neuropsychological tests and demographic and eating disorder-related questionnaires. Poisson, Negative Binomial, and Ordinary Least Squares regressions were performed to examine group differences and the associations of grazing with executive functioning within the three groups.

    Results
    Significantly lower inhibitory control and phonemic fluency were observed for the obesity group without ED features compared to healthy-weight controls. Increasing grazing severity was associated with improved performance in inhibitory control in both groups with obesity, and with phonemic fluency in the obesity group with marked eating disorder features.

    Conclusion
    Although there is mounting evidence that specific cognitive domains, especially inhibition, are affected in obesity, evidence of further detrimental effects of eating disorder psychopathology remains mixed; additionally, for persons with obesity, there may be a weak but positive link between executive functioning and grazing behaviour.

    Level of evidence
    III, comparative cross-sectional observational study with a concurrent control group.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2491–2501
    Number of pages11
    JournalEating and Weight Disorders
    Volume26
    Issue number8
    Early online date30 Jan 2021
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

    Keywords

    • obesity
    • eating disorders
    • executive functioning
    • grazing
    • inhibition
    • phonemic fluency

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