Relative food abundance predicts greater binge-eating symptoms in subsequent hours among young adults experiencing food insecurity: Support for the “feast-or-famine” cycle hypothesis from an ecological momentary assessment study

Vivienne M. Hazzard, Katie A. Loth, Ross D. Crosby, Stephen A. Wonderlich, Scott G. Engel, Nicole Larson, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Food insecurity (FI) may increase risk for binge eating through a “feast-or-famine” cycle, where fluctuations in food availability correspond to alternating periods of food restriction and opportunities for binge eating, but research on this topic is limited. To clarify the relationship between food availability and binge eating in the context of FI, this study examined the association between momentary food security level and subsequent binge-eating symptoms among individuals in food-insecure households and investigated how this association differs by factors that may modify the extent to which food availability fluctuates. Ecological momentary assessment data were collected in 2020–2021 from 75 young adults (Mage = 25.3 ± 1.8 years; 72% female; 72% Black, Indigenous, or a Person of Color) in the United States who had experienced past-month household FI. For 14 days, participants reported four times per day on food security and eating episodes, and binge-eating symptoms were assessed for each reported eating episode. About 35% of the variance in momentary food security ratings was accounted for by within-person variability over time. A significant within-person association was observed in multilevel analyses, indicating that instances of greater food security relative to one's average level predicted greater subsequent binge-eating symptoms. Moderation analyses revealed that this association was significant only among individuals reporting use of food assistance programs, high engagement in resource trade-off coping strategies (e.g., skipping bill payments to buy food), or low food security-related self-efficacy. Overall, findings offer support for the “feast-or-famine” cycle hypothesis as an explanation for the link between FI and binge eating, emphasize the importance of identifying approaches to promote more stable access to adequate food, and suggest potential intervention targets to reduce risk for binge eating in populations experiencing FI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106316
JournalAppetite
Volume180
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Data collection for the study was supported by Grant Numbers R01HL127077 and R35HL139853 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (PI: Dianne Neumark-Sztainer). The authors’ time was funded by Grant Number T32MH082761 (PI: Carol Peterson) from the National Institute of Mental Health , Grant Number K23HD090324 (PI: Katie Loth) from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development , Grant Number R01DK112487 (PIs: Scott Engel/Stephen Wonderlich) from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases , and Grant Number P20GM134969 from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (PI: Stephen Wonderlich). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the National Institute of General Medical Science, or the National Institutes of Health.

Funding Information:
Data collection for the study was supported by Grant Numbers R01HL127077 and R35HL139853 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (PI: Dianne Neumark-Sztainer). The authors’ time was funded by Grant Number T32MH082761 (PI: Carol Peterson) from the National Institute of Mental Health, Grant Number K23HD090324 (PI: Katie Loth) from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Grant Number R01DK112487 (PIs: Scott Engel/Stephen Wonderlich) from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, and Grant Number P20GM134969 from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (PI: Stephen Wonderlich). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the National Institute of General Medical Science, or the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Ltd

Keywords

  • Binge eating
  • Ecological momentary assessment
  • Food assistance
  • Self-efficacy
  • Young adults
  • food Insecurity

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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