Affect and eating behavior in obese adults with and without elevated depression symptoms

Andrea B. Goldschmidt, Ross D. Crosby, Scott G. Engel, Scott J. Crow, Li Cao, Carol B. Peterson, Nora Durkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Objective Although there is a modest relation between obesity and depression, mechanisms that contribute to this co-occurrence are unclear. This study examined mood and eating behavior among obese adults with and without elevated depression symptoms. Method Obese adults (N = 50) were subtyped according to a Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) cutoff of 14, indicating "probable depression." Participants with (BDI ≥ 14; n = 15) and without (BDI < 14; n = 35) elevated depression symptoms were compared on affect- and eating-related variables measured via questionnaire and ecological momentary assessment (EMA) using ANCOVA and mixed model regression. Results After adjusting for group differences in body mass index (BMI; p =.03), participants with elevated depression symptoms reported greater emotional eating via self-report questionnaire [F(1,50) = 4.3; p =.04], as well as more frequent binge eating (Wald χ2 = 13.8; p <.001) and higher daily negative affect (Wald χ2 = 7.7; p =.005) on EMA recordings. Emotional eating mediated the relationship between depression status and BMI (indirect effect estimate = 3.79; 95% CI = 1.02-7.46). Discussion Emotional eating and binge eating were more commonly reported by obese adults with elevated depression symptoms compared to those without and may occur against a general backdrop of overall low mood. Intervention and prevention programs for obesity and/or depression should address disordered eating to prevent or minimize adverse health consequences. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (Int J Eat Disord 2014; 47:281-286)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)281-286
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • binge eating
  • depression
  • ecological momentary assessment
  • emotional eating
  • obesity


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