Identifying Patterns of Alcohol Use and Obesity‐Related Factors Among Emerging Adults: A Behavioral Economic Analysis Journal Articles uri icon

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  • BackgroundAlthough heavy alcohol consumption and maladaptive eating behaviors have been shown to co‐occur among college students, less is known about the co‐occurrence of these behaviors in a more diverse community‐dwelling, emerging adult sample. The purpose of this study was to: (i) identify classes of emerging adults by their reported alcohol consumption patterns, food addiction symptoms, and body mass index; and (ii) determine whether these classes differed on indices of behavioral economic reinforcer pathology (e.g., environmental reward deprivation, impulsivity, alcohol demand).MethodEmerging adult participants were recruited as part of a study on risky alcohol use (n = 602; 47% white, 41.5% Black; mean age = 22.63, SD = 1.03). Participants completed questionnaires on alcohol and food‐related risk factors and underwent anthropometric assessment.ResultsLatent profile analysis suggested a four‐profile solution: a moderate alcohol severity, overweight profile (Profile 1; n = 424, 70.4%), a moderate alcohol severity, moderate food addiction + obese profile (Profile 2; n = 93, 15.4%), a high alcohol severity, high food addiction + obese profile (Profile 3; n = 44, 7.3%), and a high alcohol severity, overweight profile (Profile 4; n = 41, 6.8%). Individuals in Profile 1 reported significantly lower levels of environmental reward deprivation than either Profile 2 or 3, and participants in Profile 3 reported significantly higher environmental reward deprivation than those in Profile 4 (p < 0.001). Profile 4 demonstrated significantly higher alcohol demand intensity and Omax and lower demand elasticity than Profile 1, Profile 2, or Profile 3. Profile 4 also demonstrated significantly greater proportionate substance‐related reinforcement than Profile 1 (p < 0.001) and Profile 2 (p = 0.004).ConclusionMaladaptive eating patterns and alcohol consumption may share common risk factors for reinforcer pathology including environmental reward deprivation, impulsivity, and elevated alcohol demand.


  • Buscemi, Joanna
  • Acuff, Samuel F
  • Minhas, Meenu
  • MacKillop, James
  • Murphy, James G

publication date

  • April 2021