Racial Differences in Psychological Symptoms and Eating Behaviors Among Bariatric Surgery Candidates

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J Racial Ethn Health Disparities


BACKGROUND: Black patients typically lose less weight than White patients following bariatric surgery; however, the reasons for this racial disparity are unclear. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate whether there are differences in psychiatric symptoms and problematic eating behaviors between White and Black patients pursuing bariatric surgery as this may aid in understanding postsurgical weight loss disparities and inform psychosocial assessment of bariatric candidates.

METHODS: A retrospective chart review was conducted of participants (N = 284) who completed a psychological evaluation prior to surgery. Information collected included history of binge eating and purging as well as data from measures administered (i.e., the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, the Emotional Eating Scale, and the Yale Food Addiction Scale 2.0).

RESULTS: White patients reported higher levels of eating in response to anger/frustration (p = .03) and eating in response to depression (p = .01) than Black patients. White patients also reported more symptoms of food addiction, a difference that was trending toward significance (p = .05). No significant differences were found on measures of anxiety or depression.

CONCLUSION: White patients appear to have higher levels of presurgical problematic eating as compared with Black patients pursuing bariatric surgery; thus, these measurements of problematic eating may not explain the racial disparity in outcomes. However, future research should determine whether measures are valid among diverse populations and identify additional factors that may contribute to racial disparities in bariatric outcomes.

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ePub ahead of print