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

Abstract

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.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

References

  1. Adams, C. E., McVay, M. A., Kinsaul, J., Benitez, L., Vinci, C., Stewart, D. W., & Copeland, A. L. (2012). Unique relationships between facets of mindfulness and eating pathology among female smokers. Eating Behaviors, 13(4), 390–393.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Alberts, H. J. E. M., Thewissen, R., & Raes, L. (2012). Dealing with problematic eating behaviour. The effects of a mindfulness-based intervention on eating behaviour, food cravings, dichotomous thinking and body image concern. Appetite, 58, 847–851.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Arch, J. J., & Craske, M. G. (2006). Mechanisms of mindfulness: emotion regulation following a focused breathing induction. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 44, 1849–1858.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Arnow, B., Kenardy, J., & Agras, W. S. (1995). The emotional eating scale: the development of a measure to assess coping with negative affect by eating. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 18(1), 79–90.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Baer, R. A., Smith, G. T., Hopkins, J., Krietemeyer, J., & Toney, L. (2006). Using self-report assessment methods to explore facets of mindfulness. Assessment, 13(1), 27–45.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Bandura, A. (1997). Insights. Self-efficacy. Harvard Mental Health Letter, 13(9), 4–6.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Bickel, W. K., Wilson, A. G., Franck, C. T., Mueller, E. T., Jarmolowicz, D. P., Koffarnus, M. N., & Fede, S. J. (2014). Using crowdsourcing to compare temporal, social temporal, and probability discounting among obese and non-obese individuals. Appetite, 75, 82–89.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Bodenlos, J. S., Wells, S. Y., Noonan, M., & Mayrsohn, A. (2015). Facets of dispositional mindfulness and health among college students. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 21(10), 645–652.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Bongers, P., Jansen, A., Havermans, R., Roefs, A., & Nederkoorn, C. (2013). Happy eating. The underestimated role of overeating in a positive mood. Appetite, 67, 74–80.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Braden, A., Flatt, S. W., Boutelle, K. N., Strong, D., Sherwood, N. E., & Rock, C. L. (2016). Emotional eating is associated with weight loss success among adults enrolled in a weight loss program. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 39(4), 727–732.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Brown, K. W., & Ryan, R. M. (2003). The benefits of being present: mindfulness and its role in psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(4), 822.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Cardi, V., Leppanen, J., & Treasure, J. (2015). The effects of negative and positive mood induction on eating behaviour: a meta-analysis of laboratory studies in the healthy population and eating and weight disorders. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 57, 299–309.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Carmody, J., Reed, G., Kristeller, J., & Merriam, P. (2008). Mindfulness, spirituality, and health-related symptoms. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 64, 393–403.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Cash, M., & Whittingham, K. (2010). What facets of mindfulness contribute to psychological well-being and depressive, anxious, and stress-related symptomatology? Mindfulness, 1(3), 177–182.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Casler, K., Bickel, L., & Hackett, E. (2013). Separate but equal? A comparison of participants and data gathered via Amazon’s MTurk, social media, and face-to-face behavioral testing. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(6), 2156–2160.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Coffey, K. A., & Hartman, M. (2008). Mechanisms of action in the inverse relationship between mindfulness and psychological distress. Complementary Health Practice Review, 13(2), 79–91.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Crockett, A. C., Myhre, S. K., & Rokke, P. D. (2015). Boredom proneness and emotion regulation predict emotional eating. Journal of Health Psychology, 20(5), 670–680.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Dalrymple, K. L., Clark, H., Chelminski, I., & Zimmerman, M. (2018). The interaction between mindfulness, emotion regulation, and social anxiety and its association with emotional eating in bariatric surgery candidates. Mindfulness, 1–14.

  19. Daubenmier, J., Moran, P. J., Kristeller, J., Acree, M., Bacchetti, P., Kemeny, M. E., et al. (2016). Effects of a mindfulness-based weight loss intervention in adults with obesity: A randomized clinical trial. Obesity, 24(4), 794–804.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Derogatis, L. R., & Savitz, K. L. (2000). The SCL-90-R and Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI) in primary care. In M. E. Maruish (Ed.), Handbook of psychological assessment in primary care settings (pp. 297–334). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Devonport, T. J., Nicholls, W., & Fullerton, C. (2017). A systematic review of the association between emotions and eating behaviour in normal and overweight adult populations. Journal of Health Psychologyhttps://doi.org/10.1177/1359105317697813.

  22. Eisenberg, I. W., Bissett, P. G., Canning, J. R., Dallery, J., Enkavi, A. Z., Whitfield-Gabrieli, S., et al. (2018). Applying novel technologies and methods to inform the ontology of self-regulation. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 101, 46–57.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Elfhag, K., & Morey, L. C. (2008). Personality traits and eating behavior in the obese: poor self-control in emotional eating external eating but personality assets in restrained eating. Eating Behaviors, 9(3), 285–293.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Erisman, S. M., & Roemer, L. (2010). A preliminary investigation of the effects of experimentally induced mindfulness on emotional responding to film clips. Emotion, 10(1), 72–82.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Evers, C., Marijn, S. F., & de Ridder, D. T. (2010). Feeding your feelings: emotion regulation strategies and emotional eating. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36(6), 792–804.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Fisher, N. R., Mead, B. R., Lattimore, P., & Malinowski, P. (2017). Dispositional mindfulness and reward motivated eating: the role of emotion regulation and mental habit. Appetite, 118, 41–48.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Gardner, R. M., Brown, D. L., & Boice, R. (2012). Using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk website to measure accuracy of body size estimation and body dissatisfaction. Body Image, 9, 532–534.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Geliebter, A., & Aversa, A. (2003). Emotional eating in overweight, normal weight, and underweight individuals. Eating Behaviors, 3(4), 341–347.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Gianini, L. M., White, M. A., & Masheb, R. M. (2013). Eating pathology, emotion regulation, and emotional overeating in obese adults with binge eating disorder. Eating Behaviors, 14(3), 309–313.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Gibson, E. L. (2012). The psychobiology of comfort eating: implications for neuropharmacological interventions. Behavioural Pharmacology, 23(5–6), 442–460.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Goldberg, Y. K., Eastwood, J. D., LaGuardia, J., & Danckert, J. (2011). Boredom: an emotional experience distinct from apathy, anhedonia, or depression. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 30(6), 647–666.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Gratz, K. L., & Roemer, L. (2004). Multidimensional assessment of emotion regulation and dysregulation: development, factor structure, and initial validation of the difficulties in emotion regulation scale. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 26(1), 41–54.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Gross, J. J. (1998). Antecedent-and response-focused emotion regulation: divergent consequences for experience, expression, and physiology. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74(1), 224.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Grossman, P. (2011). Defining mindfulness by how poorly I think I pay attention during everyday awareness and other intractable problems for psychology’s (re) invention of mindfulness: Comment on Brown et al. Psychology Assessment, 23(4), 1034–1040.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Hendrickson, K. L., & Rasmussen, E. B. (2017). Mindful eating reduces impulsive food choice in adolescents and adults. Health Psychology, 36(3), 226–235.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Herbozo, S., Flynn, P., Stevens, S., & Betancourt, H. (2015). Dietary adherence, glycemic control, and psychological factors associated with binge eating among indigenous and non-indigenous Chileans with type 2 diabetes. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 22(6), 792–798.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Katterman, S. N., Kleinman, B. M., Hood, M. M., Nackers, L. M., & Corsica, J. A. (2014). Mindfulness meditation as an intervention for binge eating, emotional eating, and weight loss: a systematic review. Eating Behaviors, 15(2), 197–204.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Kavanagh, D. J., & Bower, G. H. (1985). Mood and self-efficacy: impact of joy and sadness on perceived capabilities. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 9(5), 507–525.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Keng, S.-L., Smoski, M. J., & Robins, C. J. (2011). Effects of mindfulness on psychological health: a review of empirical studies. Clinical Psychology Review, 31, 1041–1056.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Kerin, J. L., Webb, H. J., & Zimmer-Gembeck, M. J. (2018). Resisting the temptation of food: regulating overeating and associations with emotion regulation, mindfulness, and eating pathology. Australian Journal of Psychology, 70(2), 196–204.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Koball, A. M., Meers, M. R., Storfer-Isser, A., Domoff, S. E., & Musher-Eizenman, D. R. (2011). Eating when bored: revision of the emotional eating scale with a focus on boredom. Health Psychology, 31(4), 521.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Koenders, P. G., & van Strien, T. (2011). Emotional eating, rather than lifestyle behavior, drives weight gain in a prospective study in 1562 employees. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 53(11), 1287–1293.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Konttinen, H., Haukkala, A., Sarlio-Lahteenkorva, S., Silventoinen, K., & Jousilahti, P. (2009). Eating styles, self-control and obesity indicators. The moderating role of obesity status and dieting history on restrained eating. Appetite, 53, 131–134.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Levin, M. E., Dalrymple, K., Himes, S., & Zimmerman, M. (2014). Which facets of mindfulness are related to problematic eating among patients seeking bariatric surgery? Eating Behaviors, 15(2), 298–305.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Levoy, E., Lazaridou, A., Brewer, J., & Fulwiler, C. (2017). An exploratory study of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction for emotional eating. Appetite, 109, 124–130.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Liu, H., Li, G., Cumberland, W. G., & Wu, T. (2005). Testing statistical significance of the area under a receiving operating characteristics curve for repeated measures design with bootstrapping. Journal of Data Science, 3(3), 257–278.

    Google Scholar 

  47. Luce, K. H., Winzelberg, A. J., Das, S., Osborne, M. I., Bryson, S. W., & Taylor, C. B. (2007). Reliability of self-report: paper versus online administration. Computers in Human Behavior, 23(3), 1384–1389.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Marchiori, D., & Papies, E. K. (2014). A brief mindfulness intervention reduces unhealthy eating when hungry, but not the portion size effect. Appetite, 75, 40–45.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Masheb, R. M., & Grilo, C. M. (2006). Emotional overeating and its associations with eating disorder psychopathology among overweight patients with binge eating disorder. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 39(2), 141–146.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  50. National Center for Health Statistics. (2017). Health, United States, 2016: with chartbook on long-term trends in health. Hyattsville.

  51. Nolan, L. J., Halperin, L. B., & Geliebter, A. (2010). Emotional appetite questionnaire. Construct validity and relationship with BMI. Appetite, 54(2), 314–319.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Nyklícek, I. (2011). Mindfulness, emotion regulation, and well-being. In I. Nyklícek, A. Vingerhoets, & M. Zeelenberg (Eds.), Emotion regulation and well-being (pp. 101–118). New York: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  53. Ogden, C. L., Carroll, M. D., Kit, B. K., & Flegal, K. M. (2014). Prevalence of childhood and adult obesity in the United States, 2011–2012. JAMA, 311(8), 806–814.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  54. Ong, D. C. (2014). A primer to bootstrapping; and an overview of doBootstrap. Retrieved online: https://web.stanford.edu/class/psych252/tutorials/doBootstrapPrimer.pdf. Accessed 17 July 2017

  55. Ouwens, M. A., Schiffer, A. A., Visser, L. I., Raeijmaekers, N. J. C., & Nyklícek, I. (2015). Mindfulness and eating behaviour styles in morbidly obese males and females. Appetite, 87, 62–67.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Ozier, A. D., Kendrick, O. W., Leeper, J. D., Knol, L. L., Perko, M., & Burnham, J. (2008). Overweight and obesity are associated with emotion- and stress-related eating as measured by the eating and appraisal due to emotions and stress questionnaire. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 108(1), 49–56.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Paolacci, G., Chandler, J., & Ipeirotis, P. G. (2010). Running experiments on Amazon Mechanical Turk. Judgment and Decision making, 5(5), 411–419.

    Google Scholar 

  58. Pearl, R. L., & Puhl, R. M. (2014). Measuring internalized weight attitudes across body weight categories: validation of the modified weight bias internalization scale. Body Image, 11(1), 89–92.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Péneau, S., Ménard, E., Méjean, C., Bellisle, F., & Hercberg, S. (2013). Sex and dieting modify the association between emotional eating and weight status. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 97(6), 1307–1313.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  60. Pidgeon, A., Lacota, K., & Champion, J. (2013). The moderating effects of mindfulness on psychological distress and emotional eating behaviour. Australian Psychologist, 48(4), 262–269.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Pinaquy, S., Chabrol, H., Simon, C., Louvet, J., & Barbe, P. (2003). Emotional eating, alexithymia, and binge-eating disorder in obese women. Obesity Research, 11(2), 195–201.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Preacher, K. J., & Hayes, A. F. (2008). Asymptotic and resampling strategies for assessing and comparing indirect effects in multiple mediator models. Behavior Research Methods, 40(3), 879–891.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  63. Sauer, S., Lemke, J., Wittmann, M., Kohls, N., Mochty, U., & Walach, H. (2012). How long is now for mindfulness meditators? Personality and Individual Differences, 52(6), 750–754.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  64. Stice, E., Nemeroff, C., & Shaw, H. E. (1996). Test of the dual pathway model of bulimia nervosa: evidence for dietary restraint and affect regulation mechanisms. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 15(3), 340–363.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  65. van Strien, T., Cebolla, A., Etchemendy, E., Gutiérrez-Maldonado, J., Ferrer-García, M., Botella, C., & Baños, R. (2013). Emotional eating and food intake after sadness and joy. Appetite, 66, 20–25.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  66. Uusberg, H., Uusberg, A., Talpsep, T., & Paaver, M. (2016). Mechanisms of mindfulness: the dynamics of affective adaptation during open monitoring. Biological Psychology, 118, 94–106.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  67. Walfish, S. (2004). Self-assessed emotional factors contributing to increased weight gain in pre-surgical bariatric patients. Obesity Surgery, 14(10), 1402–1405.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  68. Watford, T. S., & Stafford, J. (2015). The impact of mindfulness on emotion dysregulation and psychophysiological reactivity under emotional provocation. Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice, 2(1), 90.

    Google Scholar 

  69. Wiser, S., & Telch, C. F. (1999). Dialectical behavior therapy for binge eating disorder. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 55(6), 755–768.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

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.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Tanya S. Watford.

Ethics declarations

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.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Watford, T.S., Braden, A.L. & Emley, E.A. Mediation of the Association Between Mindfulness and Emotional Eating Among Overweight Individuals. Mindfulness 10, 1153–1162 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-018-1064-3

Download citation

Keywords

  • Mindfulness
  • Emotional eating
  • Emotion regulation
  • Psychological well-being
  • Obesity