'Emotional' does not even start to cover it: Generalization of overeating in emotional eaters

P. Bongers, A. de Graaff, A. Jansen

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Abstract

Based on recent studies indicating that emotional eating is not the clearly defined problem it is often thought to be, the present study investigated whether emotional eaters overeat merely in response to negative emotional cues, or to other cues as well. It was hypothesized that emotional eaters would overeat after a variety of food cues, not limited to negative emotions. Participants took part in four conditions (negative mood manipulation, positive mood manipulation, food exposure and a control condition) divided over two sessions. Each condition was followed by a bogus taste test, after which food intake was measured. Results showed strong correlations between food intake after all four conditions, indicating that increased intake after one type of cue is related to increased intake after other cues. Participants were identified as emotional or non-emotional eaters based on food intake in the negative mood condition, and based on self-reported emotional eating scores. Both measures of emotional eating were significantly related to food intake after all cues. Based on the current findings, we conclude that individuals who show increased food intake when in a negative emotional state also overeat when experiencing other food-signalling cues. This indicates that 'emotional eating' may not fully capture the eating behaviour of individuals currently identified as 'emotional eaters'. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)611-616
Number of pages6
JournalAppetite
Volume96
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016

Keywords

  • Emotional eating
  • External eating
  • Food cue exposure
  • Cue-reactive eaters
  • Cue reactivity
  • Food intake
  • Types of eaters
  • EATING BEHAVIOR
  • POSITIVE MOOD
  • FOOD-INTAKE
  • STRESS
  • RESTRAINT
  • SNACKING
  • STYLES
  • DEBQ

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