Interpersonal Dysfunction and Affect-Regulation Difficulties in Disordered Eating Among Men and Women

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Eating Behaviors


Although several studies suggest that negative affect and interpersonal problems serve as important contributors for eating-related problems, much of this research has been conducted among women and less is known about their roles in precipitating and maintaining eating problems among men. Previous studies with undergraduate men suggest that difficulties in emotion regulation are associated with disordered eating even after controlling for differences in body mass index (BMI) and negative affect. The present study sought to replicate these findings and extend them to assess any unique variance explained by problems in interpersonal functioning among both men and women. Participants were men (n = 213) and women (n = 521) undergraduates at a large Midwestern university who completed a demographic information form, the Eating Disorder Examination-Questionnaire (EDE-Q), the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS), the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule, and the Inventory of Interpersonal Problems-Short Circumplex Form (IIP-SC). A series of hierarchical regression analyses indicated that DERS and IIP-SC significantly predicted EDE-Q global scores after controlling for variability in BMI and negative affect and that the results were similar for men and women. Our findings offer preliminary support for models that highlight emotional vulnerability and interpersonal problems for disordered eating for young adult men. Future research extending these findings among treatment-seeking samples and employing multi-method assessment would serve to further clarify the tenability of these theoretical models for both men and women.


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