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Disinhibited eating mediates differences in attachment insecurity between bariatric surgery candidates/ recipients and lean controls.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
DateAccepted/In press - 22 Jun 2017
DatePublished (current) - 8 Aug 2017


Previous research has shown that attachment anxiety is a good predictor of body mass index (BMI). This relationship is significantly mediated by disinhibited (over-) eating and is likely to reflect a specific form of affect regulation. This study explored whether obese bariatric surgery candidates (BSC; N = 34) and bariatric surgery recipients (BSR; N = 15) would show higher levels of attachment insecurity (higher attachment anxiety and/or higher attachment avoidance) than a group of age and gender-matched lean controls (N = 54). Mediation analyses showed that compared to lean controls (M = 2.96, SE = .1), both BSC (M = 3.5, SE = .2) and BSR (M = 3.4, SE = .2) groups had a more insecure attachment orientation. These relationships were significantly mediated by disinhibited eating (BSC: LLCI = .06 & ULCI = .62; BSR: LLCI = .02 & ULCI = .76). There was no such relationship when the BSC and BSR groups were compared (LLCI = -.15 & ULCI = .3). These observations suggest that attachment insecurity may be a risk factor for obesity and bariatric surgery because of associated disinhibited eating. Moreover, these factors may be important to consider when bariatric surgery results in poor outcomes.

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