Emotional Eating and Weight in Adults: a Review

Abstract

Emotional eating is the tendency to overeat in response to negative emotions and has shown to be associated with weight outcomes, both in respect to weight gain over time and difficulties with weight loss and weight loss maintenance. It is thus important to develop treatments to improve weight loss outcomes in emotional eaters. The purpose of this review is to explore adults’ relationship between emotional eating and weight by: (1) describing self-report measures used to assess emotional eating such as the Dutch Eating Behavior Questionnaire (DEBQ), the Three Factor Eating Questionnaire (TFEQ), and the Emotional Eating Scale (EES), (2) exploring the relationship between emotional eating and weight outcomes, namely examining weight gain in longitudinal studies and difficulties with weight loss and weight loss maintenance in intervention studies, and (3) reviewing current interventions that target emotional eating, using techniques such as mindfulness, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). A better understanding of adults’ emotional eating and its impact on weight is important to develop interventions that effectively target weight loss struggles unique to emotional eaters and improve weight outcomes for this population.

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Correspondence to Mallory Frayn.

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Frayn, M., Knäuper, B. Emotional Eating and Weight in Adults: a Review. Curr Psychol 37, 924–933 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-017-9577-9

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Keywords

  • Emotional eating
  • Weight
  • Weight loss
  • Review