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Existing research on the relations between anxiety and overeating is multifaceted, contradictory, and often focused on clinical, non-diverse populations. This is an exploratory study to clarify the relationship between anxiety and eating behaviors in a group of undergraduate students with a wide range of weights and mental health statuses. Specifically, this study primarily assesses relationships among general anxiety and overeating patterns. The overeating patterns assessed are binge-eating, uncontrolled eating, and emotional eating. This study supplements the primary research focus by adding the following variables: self-regulation, cognitive restraint, body mass index (BMI), and body satisfaction. Through an online questionnaire, 390 male and female participants aged 18-62 anonymously answered 73 questions. Results supported the study’s primary hypothesis of a significant, positive relationship between overeating patterns and general anxiety in both male and female undergraduate students. In women, results fully supported the second hypothesis that body satisfaction is negatively correlated with each of the following variables: general anxiety, overeating patterns, and cognitive restraint. In men, results supported the second hypothesis except body satisfaction had no significant correlation with uncontrolled eating and cognitive restraint. The main findings paired with the additional results indicate that general anxiety is strongly associated with disordered overeating patterns. These findings add to the existing literature and may enhance public awareness surrounding the relationship between unhealthy eating patterns and mental health while providing a better understanding of obesity as it relates to anxiety.
Graff, Claire; Pearcey, Sharon M.; and Zhan, Ginny
"General Anxiety and Overeating in Undergraduate Students,"
The Kennesaw Journal of Undergraduate Research: Vol. 8:
1, Article 4.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.kennesaw.edu/kjur/vol8/iss1/4