Direct and indirect effects of stress on bulimic symptoms and BMI: the mediating role of irrational food beliefs

Eat Behav. 2012 Jan;13(1):54-7. doi: 10.1016/j.eatbeh.2011.09.008. Epub 2011 Oct 7.


Objective: To test the possible mediating role of irrational food beliefs (IFBs) in the connection between stress and bulimic symptoms and BMI in a subclinical population.

Methods: Participants were college students (N=356) administered measures of daily hassles, IFBs, and bulimic symptoms. Simple mediation analyses using bootstrapping methods were performed to examine the potential direct effects of stress, and indirect effects of stress through IFBs, on bulimic symptoms and BMI.

Results: Daily hassles exerted a direct effect on bulimic symptoms, but not on BMI. Indirect effects of daily hassles, through IFBs, on both bulimic symptoms and BMI were observed. The pattern of results was not altered when gender was included in the models as a covariate.

Conclusions: The findings support a cognitive mediation model of the effects of stress on eating disorder symptoms and body mass through irrational food beliefs in both men and women.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living / psychology
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Image*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Bulimia / complications
  • Bulimia / psychology*
  • Cognition
  • Eating / psychology*
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Food Preferences / psychology
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Stress, Psychological / complications
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Young Adult