It’s a phenomenon that many of us have experienced: You crack open a family-size bag of Doritos to put out for a party, telling yourself you’ll eat only one or two, and the entire bag is dunzo before your guests even arrive. “Loss-of-control” eating is very, very common, especially for women, because our eating habits are so closely tied to our body image.
Disordered eating has always been chalked up to mental and emotional causes, and while that much still rings true, a new study conducted by Drexel University researchers suggests that your preexisting body type may also have some influence. Preliminary findings from the study reveal that “centralized fat distribution”—or what we call an apple-shaped body that stores most of its fat in the midsection—may be a key risk factor for the development of “eating disturbance,” lead author Laura Berner, PhD, told Science Daily.
Researchers monitored nearly 300 college-aged women for two years, keeping track of height, weight, and total body fat percentage. Overall, the women who had more body fat stored in the center of their bodies, regardless of their total body mass, were not only at higher risk for binge eating habits but were also significantly more likely to report dissatisfaction with the way their bodies looked.
The link between this body type and disordered eating behaviors is still unclear, but Berner says, “It’s possible that this kind of fat distribution is not only psychologically distressing but also biologically influential through, for example, alterations in hunger and satiety signaling.” She adds, “In theory, it’s possible that if a centralized distribution of fat alters the hunger and satiety messages it sends, it could make a person feel out of control while eating.”