Improvement in Emotional Eating Associated with an Enhanced Body Image in Obese Women: Mediation by Weight-management Treatments' Effects on Self-Efficacy to Resis Emotional Cues to Eating

James J. Annesi, Kennesaw State University
Nicole Mareno, Kennesaw State University


Aims: To assess effects of cognitive-behavioural weight-loss treatments on self-efficacy to control emotionally cued eating and whether those changes mediate relationships between body satisfaction and emotional eating. Background: Emotional eating is common, especially in women with obesity. A better understanding of relationships of its psychosocial correlates might benefit behavioural weight-loss treatments. Design: A field-based, quantitative study incorporated two theoretically derived weight-loss treatments using repeated measures analyses that employed validated surveys. Methods: Women with obesity volunteered for a community-based weight-loss study and were assigned to either a treatment of a manual plus phone support (n = 47), or in-person contacts emphasizing self-regulation (n = 48), over 6 months. Both emphasized physical activity, healthy eating and building self-efficacy for enabling the health-behaviour changes. Data were collected between 2013–2014. Multiple regression analyses assessed predictors of self-efficacy change. Mixed-model analysis of variances assessed treatment differences in psychosocial changes. Mediation analyses assessed mediation of the relationships between body satisfaction and emotional eating changes. Results: Changes in Overall mood and Self-regulation significantly predicted change in Self-efficacy to control emotionally cued eating. Changes in Body satisfaction, Emotional eating, Mood, Self-regulating eating and Self-efficacy were significant overall, and each significantly greater in the in-person treatment. Self-efficacy significantly mediated the relationship between changes in Body satisfaction and Emotional eating total (and Emotional eating when depressed or anxious, but not when frustrated/angry). Conclusion: Results clarified mediation of the dynamic relationship between body satisfaction and emotional eating, which might enable behavioural weight-loss treatments to better-address emotional eating.