Psychological eating factors, affect, and ecological momentary assessed diet quality



Eating behaviors are a contributor to obesity, yet more research is needed examining time varying and time-invariant factors associated with food consumption. Psychological eating factors (e.g., restraint, disinhibition, and susceptibility to hunger) and affect have been associated with obesity and diet. However, less is known about how psychological eating factors and affect are associated with food consumption assessed in daily life. The purpose of this study was to examine associations among psychological eating factors, affect, and food consumption using ecological momentary assessment (EMA) in a non-clinical sample of college students.


Young adults (N = 30; Mage = 21) completed traditional self-report measures of psychological eating factors and usual dietary intake and EMA measures of food consumption and affect.


Momentary negative affect was associated with greater sugary beverage consumption, and sugary food consumption in the past 2.5 h was associated with report of higher current negative affect. Susceptibility to hunger, disinhibited and emotional eating, and baseline unhealthy eating were positively related to sugary food consumption. Lower susceptibility to hunger was associated with more sugary beverage intake. Finally, increased aggregate EMA negative affect and positive affect were related to increased fruit consumption, and lower susceptibility to hunger and baseline unhealthy eating were associated with vegetable consumption.


Results provide support for the role of time varying and invariant factors in predicting eating behaviors in daily life; both may be important to consider in obesity prevention and intervention. Particularly, ecological momentary interventions targeting affective states in individuals’ daily lives may be useful for changing food intake.

Level of evidence

Level IV, multiple time series.

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The research was funded by an institutional grant to the third author.

Author information




Authors AJ and EB designed the study and wrote the protocol. Authors AJ and TM conducted the literature searches and provided summaries of previous research studies. Authors AJ and TM conducted the statistical analyses. Authors AJ and TM wrote the first draft of the manuscript and all authors contributed to and have approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Amy J. Jeffers.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of Virginia Commonwealth University and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Jeffers, A.J., Mason, T.B. & Benotsch, E.G. Psychological eating factors, affect, and ecological momentary assessed diet quality. Eat Weight Disord 25, 1151–1159 (2020).

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  • Eating behaviors
  • Affect
  • Ecological momentary assessment
  • Restraint
  • Disinhibition
  • Diet quality