Associations between depressive symptoms, self-efficacy, eating styles, exercise and body mass index in women
This article explores cross-sectional associations between depressive symptoms and body mass index (BMI) in women working in schools in the Greater New Orleans area. Self-efficacy for eating and exercise, eating styles, and exercise are examined as potential pathways. This is a secondary data analysis of 743 women who were participating in a workplace wellness randomized controlled trial to address environmental factors influencing eating and exercise behaviors using baseline data prior to the intervention. BMI was the primary outcome examined. Path analysis suggested that increased depressive symptoms were associated with increased BMI in women. Indirect effects of depressive symptoms on BMI were found for increased healthy eating self-efficacy, increased emotional eating, and decreased exercise self-efficacy. The association between greater healthy eating self efficacy and BMI was unexpected, and may indicate a suppressor effect of eating self-efficacy in the relationship between depressive symptoms and BMI in women. The findings suggest the importance of depressive symptoms to BMI in women. Targets for interventions to reduce BMI include targeting depressive symptoms and related sequelae including self-efficacy for exercise, and emotional eating. Further investigation of eating self-efficacy and BMI are recommended with particular attention to both efficacy for health eating and avoidance of unhealthy foods.