Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Natalie Dautovich


Women in midlife are at risk for engagement in problematic eating behavior which is associated with negative mental and physical health outcomes. Despite this risk, little is known about precipitating factors that may increase risk in this population. One specific, yet unstudied, factor that may increase risk for problematic eating in midlife women is menopause, which is characterized by distinct symptomatology (e.g., vasomotor symptoms, negative mood, sleep). The purpose of the current study was to investigate the associations among psychological, behavioral, and social symptoms of menopause and problematic eating behavior in midlife women using both retrospective and prospective methodologies. As menopause is a dynamic process that involves daily fluctuations of symptoms that may covary over time, the current study aimed to understand how menopause symptoms are globally and temporally associated with problematic eating behaviors. First, the study investigated how a comprehensive range of menopause symptoms (i.e., sleep, depressive symptoms, anxiety, pain, vasomotor symptoms, cognitive complaints, and sexual behavior) mapped onto problematic eating behaviors using retrospective, self-report questionnaires. Next, the study investigated how daily menopause symptoms (i.e., sleep, negative mood, vasomotor symptoms) temporally related to daily engagement in problematic eating behaviors both between-person (mean-level), and within-person (day-to-day level) using a seven-day, daily diary study. Overall, the study found that greater endorsement of menopause symptoms including worse mood, sleep, pain, cognitive complaints, and vasomotor symptoms, was associated with greater endorsement of problematic eating behavior. Additionally, across seven days, worse negative mood, more bothersome vasomotor symptoms, and worse sleep quality was associated with greater endorsement of daily problematic eating. On a day-to-day basis, worse mood was associated with daily problematic eating. These findings support the association between menopause symptoms and problematic eating in midlife women highlight the need for continued examination of this association.


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