Anxiety Sensitivity and Fast-Food Ordering Habits Among African-American Adults



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Background: African American adults experience high rates of overweight/obesity, which is linked to chronic diseases and is exacerbated by fast-food consumption. Anxiety sensitivity, a relatively stable fear of anxiety-related sensations, has been linked to high caloric intake. Here, we examine whether anxiety sensitivity is associated with fast-food ordering habits within an African American convenience sample. Methods: Of 124 adults (79.4% women; Mage=49.3±11.6; 84.8% overweight/obese), 107 (86.3%) reported eating from a fast-food restaurant in the last month. Participants completed the Anxiety Sensitivity-Index 3, which has a total score and physical, cognitive, and social concerns subscales. Investigator-generated items were frequency of ordering “supersized” quantities of fast-food (e.g., cheeseburgers, fries), and healthy items (e.g., salads, oatmeal, yogurt), respectively, from “never” to “always.” Covariate-adjusted ordinal logistic regression models were used to assess relations between measures of interest. Results: Anxiety sensitivity (total and physical concerns) was associated with greater odds of more frequently ordering supersized unhealthy fast-food; and anxiety sensitivity (total and cognitive concerns) was associated with lower odds of more frequently ordering healthy items from fast-food restaurants. Conclusions: Results suggest that adults with greater anxiety sensitivity may engage in fast-food ordering habits that may contribute to the overweight/obesity epidemic. Future studies should replicate results and determine the potential for anxiety sensitivity-reduction interventions to affect dietary choices that contribute to overweight/obesity. This project was completed with contributions from Lorna H. McNeill from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.