Affect systems, changes in body mass index, disordered eating and stress: An 18-month longitudinal study in women

Nuriye Kupeli, Sam Norton, Joseph Chilcot, Iain C. Campbell, Ulrike Schmidt, Nicholas Troop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Background: Evidence suggests that stress plays a role in changes in body weight and disordered eating. The present study examined the effect of mood, affect systems (attachment and social rank) and affect regulatory processes (self-criticism, self-reassurance) on the stress process and how this impacts on changes in weight and disordered eating.
Methods: A large sample women participated in a community-based prospective, longitudinal online study in which measures of body mass index (BMI), disordered eating, perceived stress, attachment, social rank, mood, and self-criticism/reassurance were measured at 6-monthly intervals over an 18 month period.
Results: Latent Growth Curve Modelling showed that BMI increased over 18 months while stress and disordered eating decreased and that these changes were predicted by high baseline levels of these constructs. Independently of this, however, increases in stress predicted a reduction in BMI which was, itself, predicted by baseline levels of self-hatred and unfavourable social comparison.
Conclusions: This study adds support to the evidence that stress is important in weight change. In addition, this is the first study to show in a longitudinal design, that social rank and self-criticism (as opposed to self-reassurance) at times of difficulty predict increases in stress and, thus, suggests a role for these constructs in weight regulation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-228
Number of pages15
JournalHealth Psychology and Behavioral Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 18 Apr 2017


  • Stress, weight, disordered eating, affect regulation, longitudinal


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