Purpose: Children with obesity demonstrate increased risk for eating disorders and internalizing psychopathology. Research in adults indicates unique facets of social anxiety differentially relate to eating pathology. These associations remain understudied in pediatric samples. The current study evaluated associations between social anxiety and disordered eating, and tested the relative importance of distinct social anxiety constructs—fear of negative evaluation, social anxiety in general situations, and social anxiety in new situations—for disordered eating in weight-loss treatment-seeking youth with obesity. Methods: One-hundred and thirty-five youth (Mage 12.6 years; Range 8–17 years; MBMIz = 2.6) from a multidisciplinary outpatient pediatric obesity clinic completed questionnaires assessing dimensions of social anxiety and the Children’s Eating Attitudes Test (ChEAT). Dominance analyses were used to evaluate the relative importance of social anxiety facets associated with ChEAT subscales. Results: Social anxiety subscales did not correlate with Dieting scores. Dominance analyses indicated Fear of Negative Evaluation (FNE) evinced complete dominance, thus, emerging as the most important predictor relative to other social anxiety components for Body/Weight Concern and Food Preoccupation. General dominance weights for FNE accounted for more than twice the shared and unique variance, relative to other independent variables within the Body/Weight Concern and Food Preoccupation models, respectively. Conclusions: Unique facets of social anxiety differentially relate to disordered eating in youth with obesity. Findings suggest nuanced assessment of anxiety constructs, such as FNE, in pediatric obesity treatment settings may aid in identifying youth at risk for disordered eating attitudes and behaviors. Level of Evidence: Level V, cross-sectional descriptive study.
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© 2018, Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature.
- Disordered Eating
- Fear of Negative Evaluation
- Pediatric Obesity
- Relative Importance Analysis
- Social Anxiety