Influence of emotions evoked by life events on food choice

  • Ana Carolina Aguiar-BloemerEmail author
  • Rosa Wanda Diez-Garcia
Original Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Food and Addiction



Considering the importance of replicating real-life experiences in studying emotional eating, this study investigated the influence of emotions evoked by life events on food choice in normal-weight and overweight women.


Normal-weight (n = 21) and overweight women (n = 23) aged 25–42 years were assigned to one of two different conditions: in one, they were shown a video with scenes of daily activities to elicit neutral responses; in the other, they were shown a video with scenes of common problems to evoke negative emotions. The participants were then offered a brunch containing sweet, salty, and healthy food items to evaluate their consumption and food choice.


Exposure to negative emotions evoked by life problems increased energy intake in both groups, but they differed in terms of food choice. The normal-weight women increased only the consumption of sweet food (p = 0.044), whereas the overweight women significantly increased ingestion of sweet and salty foods (sweet food p = 0.031; salty food p = 0.008).


The results show that common problems of life might trigger food consumption in the presence of high availability. Both groups increased food consumption after negative emotions and the normal-weight group had a higher increase than the overweight group. However, normal-weight women increased consumption of sweet foods, whereas overweight women consumed more salty, fried, and sweet foods. Healthy food was not chosen under these conditions. This should serve as a warning for the risks of excess exposure to high-sugar or high-fat food as everyday problems will not cease to exist.

Level of evidence

Level II: evidence obtained from well-designed controlled trials without randomization.


Emotional eating Negative emotion Eating behavior Food choice Comfort food 



The authors wish to thank the women who participated in this study.

Compliance with ethical standards


This study was funded by the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) (Protocol 14732-6).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the national ethics committee and with the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki. The study was approved by the Committee of Research Ethics of HCFMRP-USP under protocol 210.388.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ana Carolina Aguiar-Bloemer
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rosa Wanda Diez-Garcia
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Internal Medicine and Laboratory of Food Practices and Behavior-PrátiCA, Ribeirão Preto Medical SchoolUniversity of São PauloRibeirao PretoBrazil

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