Severe obesity is the fastest growing pediatric subgroup of excess weight levels. Psychological dysregulation (i.e., impairments in regulating cognitive, emotional, and/or behavioral processes) has been associated with obesity and poorer weight loss outcomes. The present study explored associations of dysregulation with weight-related variables among adolescent and young adult (AYA) females with severe obesity.
Fifty-four AYA females with severe obesity (MBMI = 48.71 kg/m2; Mage = 18.29, R = 15–21 years; 59.3% White) completed self-report measures of psychological dysregulation and weight-related constructs including meal patterns, problematic eating behaviors, and body and weight dissatisfaction, as non-surgical comparison participants in a multi-site study of adolescent bariatric surgery outcomes. Pearson and bivariate correlations were conducted and stratified by age group to analyze associations between dysregulation subscales (affective, behavioral, cognitive) and weight-related variables.
Breakfast was the most frequently skipped meal (consumed 3–4 times/week). Eating out was common (4–5 times/week) and mostly occurred at fast-food restaurants. Evening hyperphagia (61.11%) and eating in the absence of hunger (37.04%) were commonly endorsed, while unplanned eating (29.63%), a sense of loss of control over eating (22.22%), eating beyond satiety (22.22%), night eating (12.96%), and binge eating (11.11%) were less common. Almost half of the sample endorsed extreme weight dissatisfaction. Dysregulation was associated with most weight-related attitudes and behaviors of interest in young adults but select patterns emerged for adolescents.
Higher levels of psychological dysregulation are associated with greater BMI, problematic eating patterns and behaviors, and body dissatisfaction in AYA females with severe obesity. These findings have implications for developing novel intervention strategies for severe obesity in AYAs that may have a multidimensional impact on functioning (e.g., psychosocial health, weight loss behaviors).