Effects of Increased Exercise on Propensity for Emotional Eating Through Associated Psychological Changes

Academic Article


  • Objective: To assess the effects of exercise on emotional eating via its impact on self-regulation, mood, and body satisfaction and to evaluate the association of change in emotional eating with weight. Methods: Women participated in either manual-based (n = 44) or in-person-based (n = 50) behavioral obesity treatments with similar theory-based content and were assessed on changes in exercise outputs, self-regulatory skills usage, negative mood, body image, propensity for emotional eating, eating behaviors, and weight. Results: Significant overall improvements were found in all study variables (P < 0.001), with significantly greater improvements in the in-person group (P < 0.02). Changes in self-regulation (95% confidence interval [CI], −0.010 to −0.002), mood (95% CI, −0.011 to −0.003), and body image (95% CI, −0.011, −0.002) significantly mediated the exercise-emotional eating relationship. Relationships between changes in emotional eating and weight over both 6 and 12 months were significantly mediated by changes in intakes of both sweets (95% CI, 0.118–1.024 and 0.066–1.092, respectively) and fruits/vegetables (95% CI, 0.130–1.010 and 0.167–1.139, respectively). Conclusions and Implications: Mechanisms of the effect of exercise on emotional eating may serve to inform future weight-loss treatments.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Annesi JJ
  • Start Page

  • 944
  • End Page

  • 950
  • Volume

  • 53
  • Issue

  • 11