Loss of control over eating in overweight youngsters: The role of anxiety, depression and emotional eating

Authors

  • Lien Goossens,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Developmental, Personality and Social Psychology, Ghent University, Henri Dunantlaan 2, 9000 Gent, Belgium
    • Department of Developmental, Personality and Social Psychology, Ghent University, Henri Dunantlaan 2, 9000 Gent, Belgium.
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  • Caroline Braet,

    1. Department of Developmental, Personality and Social Psychology, Ghent University, Henri Dunantlaan 2, 9000 Gent, Belgium
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  • Leen Van Vlierberghe,

    1. Department of Developmental, Personality and Social Psychology, Ghent University, Henri Dunantlaan 2, 9000 Gent, Belgium
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  • Saskia Mels

    1. Department of Developmental, Personality and Social Psychology, Ghent University, Henri Dunantlaan 2, 9000 Gent, Belgium
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Abstract

The current study investigated loss of control (LC) over eating and the role of anxiety, depression and emotional eating in a sample of both treatment seeking (N = 115) and non-treatment seeking (N = 73) overweight youngsters (aged 8–18) using a semi-structured clinical interview and self-report questionnaires. It was found that treatment seekers reported twice as much LC (40%) compared to non-treatment seekers (21%). Cross-sectional prediction models indicated that increased anxiety was associated with emotional eating and LC. Emotional eating tended to mediate the relationship between anxiety and LC. Increased depression was associated with emotional eating but not with LC. Especially overweight treatment seekers turn out to be at risk for LC. Because LC may develop as a result of inadequate coping with negative emotions like anxiety, obesity treatment should focus on teaching more effective coping strategies. Longitudinal research is recommended to further elaborate affect regulation and LC. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and Eating Disorders Association.

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