Uncontrolled eating and obesity in adult primary care patients

James E. Rohrer, Kristin S. Vickers-Douglas, Robert J. Stroebel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Objective: The purpose of this study was to assess the independent effects of health confidence and uncontrolled eating on obesity risk in primary care patients. Methods: A random sample of primary care patients served by a large medical clinic in the mid-western United States was surveyed January-March of 2008; and 944 cases met criteria for the study. The odds of being obese (BMI ≥ 30) were modeled using multiple logistic regression. Uncontrolled eating was measured with a single question addressing problems with food control. Weight control motivation, health confidence, demographic variables, and health behaviors were used as covariates. Results: Nearly 47 percent of our respondents reported uncontrolled eating; 42.2 percent of uncontrolled eaters were obese, compared with only 9.4 percent of persons who never had problems with food control. About 27 percent of non-obese persons reported no trouble with food control, compared to 9.4 percent of obese patients having no trouble. Over 70 percent of obese respondents reported at least some trouble with food control, compared to only 37 percent of non-obese patients. Not being able to control food or having some trouble controlling food exhibited the strongest independent association with obesity (OR 6.67, CI 3.91-11.4). Conclusions: Adult primary care patients who reported inability to control their eating behavior were more likely to be obese. These effects persisted after adjusting for demographic and behavioral variables. The results of this study suggest that obesity is partly the result of uncontrolled eating. Health promotion programs may have to be patterned after those designed for substance abuse and dependency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-121
Number of pages7
JournalObesity Research and Clinical Practice
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2009


  • Obesity
  • Over-eating
  • Primary care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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