Intermittent fasting: Describing engagement and associations with eating disorder behaviors and psychopathology among Canadian adolescents and young adults

Eat Behav. 2022 Dec:47:101681. doi: 10.1016/j.eatbeh.2022.101681. Epub 2022 Nov 4.

Abstract

Intermittent fasting has grown in popularity over the past several years. However, intermittent fasting has also been shown to relate to eating disorder behaviors and psychopathology, yet little research has explored this relationship in epidemiological samples. Therefore, the aims of this study were to determine prevalence and characteristics of engagement in intermittent fasting, and associations with eating disorder behaviors and psychopathology. Data from the Canadian Study of Adolescent Health Behaviors, a national study of Canadian adolescents and young adults (N = 2762) were analyzed. Multiple modified Poisson regression analyses were conducted to determine the association between intermittent fasting (past 12 months and 30 days) and eating disorder behaviors and psychopathology (measured using the Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire). Overall, 47.7 % of women, 38.4 % of men, and 52.0 % of transgender/gender non-conforming (TGNC) participants reported engaging in intermittent fasting in the past 12 months. Intermittent fasting in the past 12 months and 30 days was significantly associated with eating disorder psychopathology among women, men, and TGNC participants. Varying patterns of association between intermittent fasting and eating disorder behaviors were found across genders, with the most consistent relationships between intermittent fasting and ED behaviors in women. Findings underscore the common nature of intermittent fasting among a large, community sample of adolescents and young adults across Canada, as well as associated eating disorder behaviors and psychopathology. Continued research is needed to further understand the effects of intermittent fasting, as clinical and public health efforts are needed to protect the health of adolescent and young adults.

Keywords: Adolescents; Canada; Eating disorders; Intermittent fasting; Young adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Fasting*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychopathology
  • Young Adult