Improvement in emotional eating associated with an enhanced body image in obese women: mediation by weight-management treatments' effects on self-efficacy to resist emotional cues to eating

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Abstract

Aims.

To assess effects of cognitive-behavioural weight-loss treatments on self-efficacy to control emotionally cued eating and whether those changes mediate relationships between body satisfaction and emotional eating.

Background.

Emotional eating is common, especially in women with obesity. A better understanding of relationships of its psychosocial correlates might benefit behavioural weight-loss treatments.

Design.

A field-based, quantitative study incorporated two theoretically derived weight-loss treatments using repeated measures analyses that employed validated surveys.

Methods.

Women with obesity volunteered for a community-based weight-loss study and were assigned to either a treatment of a manual plus phone support (n = 47), or in-person contacts emphasizing self-regulation (n = 48), over 6 months. Both emphasized physical activity, healthy eating and building self-efficacy for enabling the health-behaviour changes. Data were collected between 2013–2014. Multiple regression analyses assessed predictors of self-efficacy change. Mixed-model analysis of variances assessed treatment differences in psychosocial changes. Mediation analyses assessed mediation of the relationships between body satisfaction and emotional eating changes.

Results.

Changes in Overall mood and Self-regulation significantly predicted change in Self-efficacy to control emotionally cued eating. Changes in Body satisfaction, Emotional eating, Mood, Self-regulating eating and Self-efficacy were significant overall, and each significantly greater in the in-person treatment. Self-efficacy significantly mediated the relationship between changes in Body satisfaction and Emotional eating total (and Emotional eating when depressed or anxious, but not when frustrated/angry).

Conclusion.

Results clarified mediation of the dynamic relationship between body satisfaction and emotional eating, which might enable behavioural weight-loss treatments to better-address emotional eating.

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