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

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 statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Jan 2021

Keywords

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

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