Does stress eat away at you or make you eat? EMA measures of stress predict day to day food craving and perceived food intake as a function of trait stress-eating

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Eating behaviour can be driven by non-homeostatic factors like stress. Both increased and decreased food intake in response to stress has been documented, but it has remained difficult to identify a trait that predicts who shows either pattern. Thus, we collected naturalistic data from Ecological Momentary Assessment in combination with the trait-level Salzburg Stress Eating Scale (SSES). In study 1, 97 individuals completed the SSES and 6 daily reports about stress, food craving and perceived food intake across 8 days, whereas in study 2, 83 diet-interested participants completed the same measures at 4 daily prompts across 14 days. Consistent across both studies, multilevel modelling revealed that participants with high SSES-scores showed relatively more positive intra-day stress-craving relationships than those with low SSES-scores. On the day level, stress also predicted perceived food intake as a function of SSES-scores. Controlling for negative affect did not alter results. Results support an individual difference model of stress-eating where decrease vs increase of eating depends on SSES-scores. In affected individuals stress influences simultaneous food craving but might exhibit cumulative or delayed effects on food intake. Furthermore, the SSES provides a valid instrument for identifying at risk individuals and for tailoring interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-147
Number of pages19
JournalPsychology & Health
Volume36
Issue number2
Early online date24 Jun 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021

Fields of Science and Technology Classification 2012

  • 501 Psychology

Keywords

  • Ecological momentary assessment
  • eating behaviour
  • stress
  • negative affect
  • food craving

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