This is a self-reported study of 1051 French University students investigating the relationship between psychological distress (using Perceived Stress Scale, Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale), emotional eating (Intuitive Eating Scale-2), food addiction (modified Yale Food Addiction Scale) and Body Mass Index. Associations between the variables, and group comparisons by sex and BMI categories were both carried out using Spearman correlation and Student's t tests/ANOVA respectively. Emotional eating (EE) and food addiction (FA) were found to positively correlate with psychological distress (PD) and BMI in both male and female groups. Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) by sex indicated EE and FA mediate PD and BMI. The study may have revealed a need to incorporate emotional and addiction aspects into current health promotion campaigns for mental well-being and weight management.
A narrative review on the reasons emotional eating can develop and its relation with depression and weight gain. Strien (2018) evaluates the possible pathophysiologies involved including reversed hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) stress axis, consequences of high dietary restraint. The reviewer also looks into poor interoceptive awareness, alexithymia, emotion dysregulation and suggests parenting and genetics may play a role in the evolution of emotional eating (EE). The mediatory effect of EE on depression and obesity is strongly implicated. This could mean emotion regulating interventions can be the answer to weight loss.
Using the Emotional Appetite Questionnaire (EMAQ) and Latent Profile Analysis, the main objective of this study was to research the effect of positive emotions on emotional eating behaviour. Numerous variables were investigated by comparing eating profiles of 401 university students with factors including those already known to be associated with EE (like perceived positive/negative feelings, depression, anxiety, stress symptoms and impulsivity), BMI, risk for eating disorder, age and sex. The findings were as follows: degree of emotional distress and positive feeling were similar in Negative Emotional Overeaters (NEO) and in Negative Emotional Undereaters (NEU) although risk of developing eating disorders shoots up in both groups; NEOs cut down on food intake in a positive way, were majority female, measured higher BMIs, and were more likely to act irrationally when faced with negative feelings.