Eating Behaviors and Negative Affect in College Women's Everyday Lives

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Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA), disordered eating, eating behaviors, binge eating, mood, negative affect

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Objective: A growing body of research seeks to understand the relationship between mood and eating behaviors. Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) methods provide a method for assessing these processes in natural settings. We used EMA to examine the relationship between mood and eating behaviors in everyday life among women with subclinical disordered eating behaviors.

Method: Participants (N = 127, age M = 19.6 years, BMI M = 25.5) completed five daily EMA reports on palmtop computers for 1 week. Assessments included measures of negative affect (NA) and eating-related behavior during eating (eating large amounts of food, loss of control over eating, and restricting food intake) and noneating episodes (skip eating to control weight/shape). Time-lagged multilevel models tested mood–eating behavior relationships.

Results: Higher NA did not precede any unhealthy eating and weight control behaviors. However, NA was higher when women reported eating large quantities of food, losing control over eating, and restricting food intake during their most recent eating episode, but not after skipping eating to control weight/shape.

Discussion: These findings elucidate the processes in daily life that may influence the development and maintenance of unhealthy eating and weight control behaviors that, in turn, can inform interventions. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (Int J Eat Disord 2014; 47:853–859)

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

International Journal of Eating Disorders, v. 47, issue 8, p. 853-859