Association of Eating Behaviors and Obesity with Psychosocial and Familial Influences

Authors: Brown, Stephen L.; Schiraldi, Glenn R.; Wrobleski, Peggy P.

Source: American Journal of Health Education, 1 March 2009, vol. 40, no. 2, pp. 80-89(10)

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Abstract:

Background: Overeating is often attributed to emotions and has been linked to psychological challenges and obesity. Purpose: This study investigated the effect of emotional and external cue eating on obesity and the correlation of emotional and external cue eating with positive and negative psychological factors, as well as early familial eating context. Methods: 483 young adults attending two universities completed instruments measuring obesity, emotional and external cue eating, familial eating patterns, depression, anxiety, stress behaviors and somaticism, optimism, self-esteem, resilience, gratitude, humility, happiness, religiosity, and disordered eating. Results: Disordered eaters (with anorexia, bulimia, purging signs) reported worse mental health and more emotional eating. Gender was the only consistent predictor of obesity and external cue eating. In addition to gender, being offered food for comfort as a child was an important predictor of emotional cue eating. Discussion: More emphasis should be given to familial eating context, particularly the practice of offering children food for comfort, as a potential precursor to young adult emotional eating behavior. Translation to Health Education Practice: Findings point to a potential need to monitor and to train primary caregivers and those supervising young children in other settings regarding the use of food for non-nutritional purposes, and to provide training to children on more constructive methods of coping with strong emotions.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2009

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