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Mediation of the Association Between Mindfulness and Emotional Eating Among Overweight Individuals

  • Tanya S. WatfordEmail author
  • Abby L. Braden
  • Elizabeth A. Emley


Despite evidence for relationships between greater mindfulness, adaptive emotion regulation, psychological well-being, and less emotional eating, emotion regulation and psychological well-being have not been examined as factors that may explain the association between mindfulness and emotional eating. In addition, research on emotional eating commonly examines eating in response to general negative emotion to the exclusion of more specific emotions such as boredom and positive emotions. The current study aimed to (1) examine whether greater mindfulness was associated with less frequent eating in response to general negative emotions (EEN), boredom (EEB), and positive emotions (EEP) and (2) examine whether emotion regulation and psychological well-being mediate the relationship between mindfulness and emotional eating types (EEN, EEB, EEP). A sample of overweight/obese adults (n = 189) was recruited via Amazon Mechanical Turk. Participants completed a battery of questionnaires and self-reported height and weight. Correlational analyses showed that greater mindfulness was associated with less EEN and EEB but not EEP. In mediation analyses, emotion regulation and psychological well-being mediated the association between mindfulness and both EEN and EEB. The presented study demonstrated that the relationship between greater mindfulness and less emotional eating may be explained by emotion regulation and psychological well-being among adults with overweight/obesity. Treatments that target increased mindfulness may improve adaptive emotion regulation and psychological well-being, resulting in a reduced tendency to eat in response to negative emotions and boredom.


Mindfulness Emotional eating Emotion regulation Psychological well-being Obesity 


Author Contributions

TSW: designed the study, analyzed the data, and wrote the paper. ALB: collaborated with the design and writing of the study. EE: collaborated with executing the study and edited the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The study was approved by the Institutional Review Board at Bowling Green State University.

Informed Consent

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


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bowling Green State UniversityBowling GreenUSA

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