Problematic eating behaviors and attitudes predict long-term incident metabolic syndrome and diabetes: The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study

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Background: Problematic relationship to eating and food (PREF) captures a broad range of unhealthy eating behaviors. We previously reported that higher BMI is associated with PREF and graded by the number of PREF endorsed. In this study, we prospectively examined the association between PREF and metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Method: Eight PREF behaviors were assessed and summed to form the PREF score in 3800 black and white adults (age 27–41 years) in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study. Diagnoses of incident metabolic syndrome and diabetes were made through 15 years of follow-up. Logistic regression estimated the association with metabolic syndrome. Proportional hazards regression estimated the association with diabetes. Results: The odds ratio of metabolic syndrome was 1.25 per PREF point through 5 years of follow-up (95% CI: 1.17–1.34) and 1.17 per point from 5 to 10 years of follow-up (95% CI: 1.08–1.27). Hazard of diabetes was 1.20 per PREF point through 15 years of follow-up (95% CI: 1.12–1.28). Both associations attenuated after adjustment for BMI. Discussion: Among participants with PREF, higher scores associate with metabolic syndrome and diabetes, with partial attenuation after adjustment for BMI. Early identification of PREF in middle-aged adults may reduce the burden of metabolic health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)304-308
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2019



  • eating behavior
  • longitudinal study
  • metabolic syndrome
  • middle-aged
  • type 2 diabetes

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

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