Background: Obesity is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality, yet it is preventable. Interventions which fail to address behavioural contributors to weight gain are unlikely to be successful. This study aimed to investigate the relationship between body mass index (BMI), body fat percentage (BF%), and obesity related eating behaviours.
Methods: Women (n=116), aged between 20 and 45 years, were recruited. Quetelet’s BMI was calculated (kg/m2) from height and weight measurements, and BF% was measured using air displacement plethysmography (BodPod). Women completed the validated Three Factor Eating Questionnaire (TFEQ) to assess their eating behaviours. The three main eating factor scores (Restraint, Disinhibition and Hunger) and their sub-categories were calculated. The TFEQ data were analysed for associations with BMI and BF%, as well as categorisations based on high BMI (≥25 and ≥30 kg/m2) and high BF% (≥30%).
Results: The women had a median (IQR) age of 34 (27, 40) years, BMI of 23 (21, 25) kg/m2, and mean±SD BF% (30.5±8%). Disinhibition was positively correlated with both BMI (p<0.001) and BF% (p<0.001). Emotional Disinhibition was the only TFEQ sub-category that differed significantly between women with high versus normal BMI and BF%. No significant correlations were found between Restraint or Hunger and BMI or BF%.
Conclusion: Disinhibition seems likely to be a key contributor to both higher BMI and BF%. Intervention strategies which educate overweight or obese women on how to counteract Disinhibition should be a key target area for prevention of further weight/fat gain.
Funding source: Massey University Research Fund.