Mitigation of the effects of emotional eating on sweets consumption by treatment-associated self-regulatory skills usage in emerging adult and middle-age women with obesity

Academic Article


  • An urge to eat in response to negative emotions or mood (emotional eating) is associated with an overconsumption of unhealthy foods such as sweets. Propensities for emotional eating is most prevalent in women, but its effects might differ by age. Within behavioral obesity treatments, it is unclear whether learned self-regulatory skills mitigate the effects of emotional eating susceptibilities on sweets intake, or if expected exercise-induced mood improvements affect the emotional eating-sweets intake relationship. Emerging adult (18–25 years-of-age; n = 43) and middle-age (45–65 years-of-age; n = 79) women with obesity participating in the same cognitive-behavioral treatment that emphasized exercise prior to eating-behavior changes were assessed on levels of propensities for emotional eating, self-regulatory skills usage, mood, and intake of sweets. There were overall significant improvements in self-regulation for eating, overall mood, and daily intake of sweets; with a significantly greater reduction in sweets in the emerging adult women. Self-regulation for eating at Month 3 significantly mediated the prediction of sweets intake at Month 6 by overall emotional eating and emotional eating related to depression. When dimensions of mood (i.e., total negative mood, depression, anxiety, anger) at Month 3 were entered into the models as possible moderators of relationships between a corresponding dimension of emotional eating and sweets intake, anxiety was found to be a significant moderator. Because sweets intake was affected by age, it should be considered in behavioral obesity interventions. Findings suggested advantages of fostering self-regulatory skills and reductions in anxiety, possibly through supported exercise, to mitigate unhealthy eating behaviors associated with propensities for emotional eating.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • Appetite  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Annesi JJ; Johnson PH
  • Volume

  • 155