Date of Award

January 2014

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

School of Public Health

First Advisor

Marney White

Abstract

Food insecurity, the limited or uncertain availability of food, is paradoxically associated with overweight and obesity in the United States. Mechanisms for this are not well understood, but it is hypothesized that unstable food supply leads to disordered eating, such as binge eating, predisposing individuals to obesity. The current study explored both eating and mood disturbances in the context of food insecurity. The primary hypothesis was that food insecurity would be positively associated with both weight and shape concern. Binge eating, depression, and emotional eating were secondary variables of interest. Participants were 276 community volunteers who completed online surveys. The prevalence of food insecurity in the sample was 48.2%. T-tests and correlations revealed significant positive associations for all variables as hypothesized, except binge eating. Regression models indicated that depression mediated the relationship between food insecurity and weight and shape concern. Associations were only significant among females. Considering the elevated eating and mood disturbances experienced by food insecure women, interventions targeted at this group should aim to take a holistic approach.

Comments

This is an Open Access Thesis.

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