Main content area

Emotion regulation difficulties and impaired working memory interact to predict boredom emotional eating

Ferrell, Emily L., Watford, Tanya S., Braden, Abby
Appetite 2020 v.144 pp. 104450
anxiety, binging, cognition, college students, memory, memory disorders, regression analysis, risk factors, standard deviation, weight gain
Emotional eating (EE), or eating in response to emotions, is related to depression, binge eating, and weight gain. Emotion regulation difficulties are a risk factor for EE. Working memory deficits may also be a risk factor for EE, as working memory is an important cognitive factor in emotion regulation. The current study is a secondary analysis that examined whether working memory moderated the relationship between emotion regulation and emotional eating. A college student sample completed measures of EE in response to depression, boredom, and anxiety/anger (Emotional Eating Scale), emotion regulation (Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale) and a working memory task (AOSPAN). Moderated regression analyses were conducted. Conditional moderation was observed, such that greater emotion regulation difficulties were associated with boredom EE, when working memory was one standard deviation (SD) below average. Moderation analyses were not significant when examining associations between working memory, emotion regulation difficulties, and depression and anxiety EE. Findings suggest that the correlates of boredom EE may be different than depression and anxiety/anger EE. Although the current study was cross-sectional, it is possible that individuals with poorer working memory and emotion regulation difficulties, especially in tandem, may be at increased risk for boredom EE.