272341 Maternal Psychological Distress and Disordered Eating Among US Mothers

Monday, October 29, 2012 : 10:50 AM - 11:10 AM

Whitney P. Witt, PhD, MPH , Department of Population Health Sciences, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI
Taryn Morrissey, PhD , Department of Public Administration and Policy, School of Public Affairs, American University, Washington, DC
Rada Dagher, PhD, MPH , Dpt of Health Services Admin, University of Maryland, College Park, MD
Background: Women's nutrition and dietary practices are vital, daily personal behaviors with important implications for their own health and the health and development of their children. We sought to examine the eating behaviors and weight-loss strategies of mothers in the United States, and how these behaviors vary by measures of mothers' psychological distress. Methods: We used data from the 1998 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). Maternal psychological distress was measured using the Kessler 6. Mothers reported on whether they were trying to lose weight and the behaviors used to control or lose weight. Unhealthy weight loss strategies were defined as skipping meals; taking diet pills, laxatives, water pills, or diuretics; vomiting; or fasting for 24 hours or longer.

Results: Mothers with psychological distress were more likely to be currently trying to lose weight (47% versus 40%) than mothers without distress. In multivariate analyses, maternal psychological distress was associated with more than a two-fold increased odds of engaging in unhealthy weight loss strategies (OR: 2.4, 95% CI: 1.8-3.1).

Conclusion: Given the incidence of maternal depression and its effects on family functioning, future research on the mechanisms through which psychological distress affects the dietary behaviors of mothers can illuminate areas for clinical and public health interventions to promote healthy eating for the entire family.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
By the end of this session, the participants will be able to Describe the impact of maternal psychological distress on the nutritional practices of mothers in the US; Discuss the implications of these findings for mothers and their children;

Keywords: Maternal Well-Being, Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been a PI or co-PI on multiple federally funded grants focusing on maternal and child health, particularly on eating patterns and child weight outcomes.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.