Gender Related Differences In Emotional Eating and Its Role In Obesity
Tiu, Cindy BS
Goyer, Alexandria BS
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Background: Obesity rates have increased and are linked to diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and mortality, making it an important focus among health professionals. Current evidence shows that people who have high stress levels tend to be overweight and have higher rates of emotional eating (EE). To date, little is known about gender differences in EE. The purpose of this study is to analyze whether or not there are gender differences in EE and if it is tied to obesity. Methods: 97 participants with an average BMI of 25.19kg/m2 (sd=12.86) and average age of 30.78 years completed a self-report survey that assessed the participant’s level of stress and EE. Subjects were categorized into high and low EE based on a mean split, where lower values indicated a higher degree of EE. Chi square analysis was used to compare high and low EE by gender. Pearson correlation was used to determine association between EE and state anxiety for men and women. Independent samples t-tests were used to analyze differences in EE by BMI (normal weight versus overweight/obese) stratified by gender. Results: Out of the 97 participants, 39% were overweight/obese. 56% were white/Caucasian, 28% were Asian, 8% were Hispanic, 8% were other. 54% were male and 56% were female. EE significantly differed by gender (x2=.001). Among women, 63.0% had high rates of EE. Among men, 27.9% had high rates of EE. Anxiety and EE were significantly correlated for women (p=.029) and men (p=.046). When comparing the overweight/obese individuals in each gender, EE was higher in overweight/obese women (mean=77.87, sd=19.98) as compared to normal weight women (mean=89.16, sd=14.84) (t=2.256, p=.028). There was no significant difference in EE between overweight men (mean=93.5, sd=15.86) and normal weight men (mean=98.63, sd=11.5) (t=1.168, p=.250). Conclusion: More women than men reported EE. EE was higher in normal weight than overweight women but not between normal and overweight men. Clinicians should be aware of the factors related to EE in order to provide targeted interventions to prevent obesity and promote weight loss, especially in women who emotionally eat.