Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
First Committee Member
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
Fourth Committee Member
Loneliness is implicated in several mental health conditions and may also be linked to eating pathology, like binge eating symptoms (e.g., loss-of-control eating). However, the pathways by which loneliness might be associated with binge eating symptoms are less well understood. Preliminary evidence suggests perceived stress may be a key explanatory pathway. Specifically, perceived stress mediates the impact of loneliness on other mental health outcomes and is associated with increased risk of binge eating symptoms. This study investigated relationships between loneliness, perceived stress, and binge eating symptoms and tested whether heightened levels of binge eating was accounted for by increases in loneliness and perceived stress in two US samples of women. This study evaluated the mediation model in two samples of women, one collected prior to the COVID-19 pandemic (PreCovid) and the other collected early in the COVID-19 pandemic (MidCovid). The PreCovid sample included 322 women who were assessed in January to November 2019, and the MidCovid sample included 331 women who were assessed during May 2020. All participants completed online surveys. The UCLA Loneliness Scale V.3 (UCLS-LS), Perceived Stress Scale (PSS-10), and Brief Loss of Control Over Eating Scales (LOCES-B) assessed loneliness, perceived stress, and binge eating symptoms, respectively. Pearson Product correlations assessed the interrelationships among loneliness, perceived stress, and binge eating symptoms, and a between samples t-test evaluated whether the MidCovid sample reported higher mean levels on these study variables than the PreCovid sample. A mediation model, estimated separately for the PreCovid and MidCovid samples, examined whether perceived stress accounted for the relationship between loneliness and binge eating symptoms. An exploratory moderated mediation model evaluated whether the timing of data collection (Pre vs Mid COVID-19) affected the relationship between the variables of importance. Results: Mean levels of loneliness, perceived stress and binge eating were not elevated during the early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. Both loneliness and perceived stress individually predicted binge eating, and perceived stress mediated the relationship between loneliness and binge eating. Only the relationship between loneliness and perceived stress was moderated by the time of the sample. Findings suggest that individual differences in loneliness and perceived stress are significant predictors of binge eating symptoms in women, and that perceived stress explains the relationship between loneliness and binge eating symptoms. Current findings call attention to the mediating role of perceived stress in predicting binge eating behavior and highlight perceived stress as a non-specific potential clinical target in binge eating treatment. Public health interventions are recommended to help raise greater awareness about the possible interplay of loneliness and perceived stress in the development and maintenance of binge eating symptoms in women.
Binge Eating; Eating Disorders; Loneliness
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Stevens, Kimberly, "Examination of the Relationship Between Loneliness and Binge Eating Symptoms" (2022). UNLV Theses, Dissertations, Professional Papers, and Capstones. 4624.
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