Expectations, mood, and eating behavior in binge eating disorder. Beware of the bright side

A. Dingemans*, C. Martijn, E. van Furth, A.T.M. Jansen

*Corresponding author for this work

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Sad people may indulge in fattening snacks because they believe that eating will repair their mood. To test whether (I) changes in expectations and mood had an effect on caloric intake and (2) depressive symptoms moderated caloric intake, 73 women with binge eating disorder were randomly assigned to a condition in which expectations about food and emotion were either confirmed or disconfirmed. Subsequently they were shown either an upsetting or an amusing movie clip followed by a taste task. Contrary to our expectations, there were no differences in the four conditions: participants in all four conditions ate comparable amounts of calories. Manipulation of expectations or mood had no effect on caloric intake. However, higher baseline expectations that food is pleasurable and useful as a reward resulted in a higher caloric intake after positive mood induction. Non-depressed individuals ate less after a negative mood induction than did depressed individuals. Interestingly, they also ate less than the group of individuals, depressed and not, whose mood was positively induced. Non-depressed individuals seem to use healthier coping strategies: negative affect signals that the environment poses a problem. Positive affect on the other hand signals that the environment is benign, and thus makes people less vigilant about food intake.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)166-173
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009

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