Validity of the Adult Eating Behavior Questionnaire for adolescents treated in a weight management clinic

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Background: The Child and Adult Eating Behavior Questionnaires (CEBQ, AEBQ) are established measures of eating behaviors. However, no similar measure is available for adolescents. Prior research has validated the AEBQ in adult samples, and one study has explored using the measure with adolescents. However, no studies to date have examined the validity of the AEBQ in adolescent clinical populations. Furthermore, no studies have examined associations between the AEBQ and indicators of health status in adolescents. Methods: A total of 280 adolescents (12–17 years old, 60% female) seen in a pediatric weight management clinic completed the AEBQ at intake. Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was conducted with AEBQ items to evaluate the model fit of one-, two-, seven-, and eight-factor structures. Intercorrelations between scale scores from AEBQ Food Approach and Food Avoidance domains were calculated. Associations of AEBQ scales with body mass index (BMI) and binge-eating behaviors were examined using Spearman Rho correlations and independent t-tests. Results: CFAs revealed that the best fitting model was a seven-factor structure excluding the Hunger scale, although overall model fit was only marginally acceptable (X2 = 980.94, CFI = 0.925, TLI = 0.915, RMSEA = 0.074). Intercorrelation analyses indicated that all Food Approach scales were significantly associated with one another (r = 0.243–0.654); Food Avoidance scales were inconsistently correlated (r = 0.034–0.439). No AEBQ scales were correlated with BMI (r = −0.101–0.082). Stronger links were found with binge eating; higher frequency binge-related behaviors were associated with higher Food Approach scores. Conclusions: The seven-factor structure of AEBQ demonstrates a marginally acceptable fit for treatment-seeking adolescents with obesity. The Food Approach scales demonstrated more convergent validity than the Food Avoidance scales. The Food Approach scales also exhibited some clinical utility for identifying patients with increased risk for binge eating, which is a common target for behavioral intervention. Implications for maximizing the AEBQ’s potential for assessing eating behaviors in adolescents with obesity are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1086-1094
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
Issue number5
Early online dateFeb 18 2021
StatePublished - May 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited part of Springer Nature.

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Validation Study


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