Research from overweight/obese clinical samples links weight instability to poor health. This study investigated whether negative health outcomes were associated with weight instability in a population-based sample.
One thousand five hundred ten women and 1,111 men from the Mid-Atlantic Twin Registry completed questionnaires assessing demographics, body size in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, health satisfaction, and disordered eating. Noneating disorder psychiatric diagnoses were assessed via clinical interviews.
Weight instability was related to lower health satisfaction and self-esteem, and higher body dissatisfaction, dieting, and binge eating for both sexes. Weight unstable women were more likely to meet criteria for lifetime major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and eating disorders. Weight stable women were more likely to abuse alcohol; however, two of these associations [e.g. weight instability and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and weight stability and alcohol abuse] became nonsignificant once lifetime binge eating was accounted for, indicating that these forms of psychopathology are more strongly related to binge eating than weight instability itself. No associations between weight stability and psychiatric diagnoses were found in men.
Weight instability is related to mental and physical health concerns for both sexes. It was also specifically associated with depression and eating pathology in women. © 2010 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (Int J Eat Disord 2010)