Parent–Infant Attachment Insecurity and Emotional Eating in Adolescence: Mediation through Emotion Suppression and Alexithymia

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http://hdl.handle.net/10138/330221

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Beijers, R.; Miragall, M.; van den Berg, Y.; Konttinen, H.; van Strien, T. Parent–Infant Attachment Insecurity and Emotional Eating in Adolescence: Mediation through Emotion Suppression and Alexithymia. Nutrients 2021, 13, 1662.

Title: Parent–Infant Attachment Insecurity and Emotional Eating in Adolescence: Mediation through Emotion Suppression and Alexithymia
Author: Beijers, Roseriet; Miragall, Marta; van den Berg, Yvonne; Konttinen, Hanna; van Strien, Tatjana
Publisher: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute
Date: 2021-05-14
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/330221
Abstract: Emotional eating (EE), the propensity to eat in response to emotions, is thought to have its origins in the early parent–infant relationship. This study tested the hypothesis that infant attachment insecurity results in EE in adolescence through the increased use of the emotion regulation strategy suppression of emotions and subsequent alexithymia. At the age of 15 months, parent–infant attachment security (<i>n</i> = 129) was observed with two abbreviated attachment measures: the shortened strange situation procedure (SSSP), and the shortened attachment Q-set (S-AQS). At the age of 12 years, children completed self-report questionnaires to assess the suppression of emotions, alexithymia, and EE. At the age of 16 years, EE was measured again. The mediation models indicated that lower parent–infant attachment security predicted increased use of suppression of emotions, which was related to increased alexithymia, and in turn more EE at the age of 12 years. These results were similar and significant for both attachment measures, and also (marginal) significant with EE at the age of 16 years as an outcome. Lastly, when parental caregiving quality was included, the models with the SSSP as predictor remained significant, but the models with the S-AQS became insignificant. These results indicated that to a certain extent, infant attachment security could predict adolescent EE above and beyond parental caregiving quality.


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