There are a lot of different body shapes out there, making each individual extremely unique and special. And while no one person is alike, there are categories for scientific reasons that give us an idea of our bodies on a more general scale. From what we eat to how we exercise, it's important to know your body type and how you can properly live for it.
But did you know that THIS body shape is most susceptible to binge eating?
Women who have apple-shaped bodies store more fat in their trunk and midsection. They're also at risk for eating disorders; susceptible to "loss of control' according to a Drexel University study called "Examination of Central Body Fat Deposition as a Risk Factor for Loss-of-Control Eating," which was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The study also discovered that women with excessive fat in their abdominal region reported to be less satisfied with their figures, which in turn led them to uncontrollable eating. This particular study is the first look at how fat distribution, body image disturbance and eating disorders all connect.
"Eating disorders that are detected early are much more likely to be successfully treated. Although existing eating disorder risk models comprehensively address psychological factors, we know of very few biologically-based factors that help us predict who may be more likely to develop eating disorder behaviors," explained the study's lead author Laura Berner, PhD.
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"Our preliminary findings reveal that centralized fat distribution may be an important risk factor for the development of eating disturbance, specifically for loss-of-control eating," she continued. "This suggests that targeting individuals who store more of their fat in the midsection and adapting psychological interventions to focus specifically on body fat distribution could be beneficial for preventing eating disorders," Berner, who is now a postdoctoral research fellow at the Eating Disorders Center for Treatment and Research at UC San Diego Health said.
Co-authors of the study included Michael R. Lowe, PhD, a professor in Drexel's College of Arts and Sciences and Danielle Arigo, PhD, a postdoctoral research fellow at Drexel. She is currently an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Scranton. Laurel Mayer, MD, associate professor of clinical psychiatry at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and the New York State Psychiatric Institute was also a co-author, as was David B. Sarwer, PhD, professor of psychology in Psychiatry and Surgery at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and director of clinical services at the Center for Weight and Eating Disorders.
One of the biggest reasons for bing-eating, it seems, is a sensation during eating that occurs, where the individual feels a loss of control. "This sense of loss of control is experienced across a range of eating disorder diagnoses: bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder and the binge-eating/purging subtype of anorexia nervosa," noted Berner. "We wanted to see if a measurable biological characteristic could help predict who goes on to develop this feeling, as research shows that individuals who feel this sense of loss of control over eating but don't yet have an eating disorder are more likely to develop one."
For the study, researchers utilized a large dataset that tracked female college freshman for a total of two years, analyzing the connection between poor body image and loss of control while eating.
The study included 300 young adult women. Their height, weight and total body fat percentage were assessed at baseline, six months and then again at 24 months. Sense of loss of control was self-reported throughout the length of the study by the participants.
What the researchers found from this sample was that women with larger stores of central fat had a greater likelihood of developing a binge eating disorder. They also had poor body image, no matter their weight or how depressed they were.
"Our results suggest that centralized fat deposition increased disordered eating risk above and beyond other known risk factors," explained Berner. "The specificity of our findings to centralized fat deposition was also surprising. For example, a one-unit increase in the percentage of body fat stored in the abdominal region was associated with a 53 percent increase in the risk of developing loss-of-control eating over the next two years, whereas total percentage body fat did not predict loss-of-control eating development."
Berner does mention, however, that more research is required to explain these findings further.
"It's possible that this kind of fat distribution is not only psychologically distressing, but biologically influential through, for example, alterations in hunger and satiety signaling," she continued. "Fat cells release signals to the brain that influence how hungry or satiated we feel. Our study didn't include hormone assays, so we can't know for sure, but in theory it's possible that if a centralized distribution of fat alters the hunger and satiety messages it sends, it could make a person feel out of control while eating."
The findings may even be linked to eating disorders other than loss-of-control eating, but again, more research is required to determine this. "Body fat distribution hasn't been studied in disorders characterized by binge-eating behaviors as much as it has in anorexia nervosa," Berner noted. "The participants in our sample didn't develop eating disorder diagnoses within the two year period that we studied them, but this study suggests that future research should investigate whether individuals with greater central fat stores are more likely to develop bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder."
What are your thoughts on these findings?