The Construct of Feeling Fat in a Non-eating Disordered Population
Date of Submission
Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)
Robert A DiTomasso, PhD, ABPP, Chair, Department of Psychology
Stacey C Cahn, PhD, Chairperson
Barbara Golden, PsyD, ABPP
Jane Z Dumsha, PhD
Feeling fat is a common and aversive symptom in women both with and without eating disorders, and is often defined as a proxy for affective distress. This study explored the correlates and coping mechanisms of feeling fat in a non-eating disordered population of female medical students and female graduate students. Associations between feeling fat and a) clinical perfectionism, b) somatic sensations, and c) negative affect were examined, and significant relationships were identified. Multiple linear regressions were conducted to predict behavioral coping mechanism as a function of feeling fat, as a function of clinical perfectionism, and as a function of their interaction. Females with higher levels of feeling fat were significantly more likely to exercise, diet, binge eat, and drink alcohol to cope with fat feelings. Females with higher levels of clinical perfectionism were significantly more likely to exercise and diet to cope with fat feelings. Overall, female medical students and female graduate students were significantly more likely to cope by dieting, and higher levels of feeling fat led to significant increases in the rate of dieting, compared with the rate of exercise. A subset of eating disordered behaviors was identified. Implications of these findings in a non-clinical sample of medical and graduate students are discussed. This research suggests that the highly complex and multidimensional construct of feeling fat is more accurately described as a misnaming and misinterpretation of both emotions and bodily sensations as proposed by Fairburn (2008).
Aye Killian, Jennifer, "The Construct of Feeling Fat in a Non-eating Disordered Population" (2013). PCOM Psychology Dissertations. 279.