Expressive Suppression of Emotions and Overeating in Individuals with Overweight and Obesity

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Abstract

Emotions have a considerable impact on eating behaviour; however, research addressing emotion regulation in obesity is rare. The present study is the first to investigate the association between emotional suppression and overeating in individuals with overweight.

In total, 314 participants including 190 individuals with obesity filled in a cross-sectional online survey, which assessed emotional suppression, eating behaviour and psychopathology. A hierarchical linear regression analysis was conducted to identify factors associated with overeating.

Individuals with obesity reported more frequent overeating compared with individuals without obesity. The habitual use of emotional suppression was associated with more overeating; however, this link was moderated by increased body mass index (BMI).

The results suggest that suppression of emotional expression contributes to overeating and is maladaptive especially in individuals with obesity. Further research should longitudinally investigate the predictive value of emotional suppression on overweight, as the training of emotion regulation could contribute to treating obesity. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and Eating Disorders Association.

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