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Indulgent thinking? Ecological momentary assessment of overweight and healthy-weight participants' cognitions and emotions

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Cognitions and emotions are considered important determinants of eating behaviour in cognitive behavioural models of obesity. Ecological data on these determinants is still limited. The present study investigated cognitions and emotions of overweight (n = 57) and healthy-weight (n = 43) participants via Ecological Momentary Assessment. It was found that eating-related cognitions mainly focused on desire and taste. Unexpectedly, dysfunctional cognitions (i.e., thoughts that may promote overeating) did not occur more often for overweight participants in almost all cases. So, the present EMA study provides no evidence for a role of dysfunctional cognitions in obesity-promoting eating behaviour when assessing eating-related cognitions immediately prior to eating events using a free-text format assessment. Right before eating events, participants mostly reported feeling calm/relaxed and cheerful/happy. Overweight participants scored higher on negative emotions, both at eating events and non-eating moments, than did healthy-weight participants. In addition, scores on standard questionnaires assessing emotional eating were positively associated with negative emotions reported at both eating and non-eating moments. As such, negative emotions, as assessed in the present study, do not seem to be specific triggers for food consumption.

    Research areas

  • Obesity, Overweight, Emotional eating, Cognitions, Ecological momentary assessment, Experience sampling, Daily life, RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED-TRIAL, BINGE-EATING DISORDER, NEGATIVE MOOD, OBESE ADULTS, POSITIVE MOOD, FOOD-INTAKE, FOLLOW-UP, EATERS, METAANALYSIS, BEHAVIOR
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196-206
Number of pages11
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016