Military-dependent youth appear to be at greater risk for disordered-eating than their civilian counterparts. Permanent change of station moves (PCS-moves), typically occurring every 2-3 years, are commonly experienced by adolescent military-dependents. However, the links between PCS-moves and disordered-eating in this population have not been explored. We hypothesized that stress arising from PCS-moves may contribute to the development and/or exacerbation of disordered-eating.
One-hundred-forty-nine adolescent military-dependents with overweight or obesity (59.7% female; 46.3% non-Hispanic White; 14.4±1.5 years; BMI-z: 1.9±0.4) completed measures before commencing an adulthood obesity and binge-eating disorder prevention trial for adolescents at-risk for both conditions due to BMI percentile ≥85th and loss-of-control (LOC)-eating and/or elevated anxiety symptoms. Disordered-eating attitudes and LOC-eating were assessed by semi-structured interview, and emotional eating was self-reported. Adjusting for relevant covariates, multiple linear regressions examined the unique association of PCS-move frequency with disordered-eating attitudes and disinhibited-eating behaviors.
PCS-move frequency was not significantly associated with either LOC-eating frequency (β = 0.09, p = .27) or emotional eating (β = -0.04, p = .62). However, PCS-move frequency was positively associated with disordered-eating attitudes (β = 0.17, p = .04), which appeared to be primarily driven by shape concerns (β = 0.21, p = .01).
Findings indicate that frequency of PCS-moves is related to disordered-eating attitudes, but not behaviors. Longitudinal research is needed to understand if PCS-moves prospectively relate to the onset and/or exacerbation of disordered-eating, and the relevance of disordered-eating attitudes as opposed to disinhibited-eating behaviors.

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