Psychosocial predictors of emotional eating and their weight-loss treatment-induced changes in women with obesity

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


Purpose This study aimed at assessing whether psychosocial predictors of controlled eating and weight loss also predict emotional eating, and how differing weight-loss treatment methods affect those variables. Methods Women with obesity (M = 47.8 ± 7.9 years; BMI = 35.4 ± 3.3 kg/m2) were randomized into groups of either phone-supported self-help (Self-Help; n = 50) or in-person contact (Personal Contact; n = 53) intended to increase exercise, improve eating behaviors, and reduce weight over 6 months. Results A multiple regression analysis indicated that at baseline mood, self-regulating eating, body satisfaction, and eating-related self-efficacy significantly predicted emotional eating (R2 = 0.35), with mood and self-efficacy as independent predictors. Improvements over 6 months on each psychosocial measure were significantly greater in the Personal Contact group. Changes in mood, self-regulation, body satisfaction, and self-efficacy significantly predicted emotional eating change (R2 = 0.38), with all variables except self-regulation change being an independent predictor. Decreased emotional eating was significantly associated with weight loss. Conclusion Findings suggest that weight-loss interventions should target specific psychosocial factors to improve emotional eating. The administration of cognitive-behavioral methods through personal contact might be more beneficial for those improvements than self-help formats.