Association between emotional eating, energy-dense foods and overeating in Latinos

UMMS Affiliation

UMass Worcester Prevention Research Center; Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine; Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Clinical and Population Health Research Program

Publication Date


Document Type



Behavioral Medicine | Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Community Health | Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Nutritional and Metabolic Diseases | Pathological Conditions, Signs and Symptoms | Preventive Medicine | Race and Ethnicity


BACKGROUND: Latinos experience disparities in obesity. Although causes of obesity are multifactorial, overeating is a major contributor. Emotional eating (EE) is associated with obesity and with intake of energy-dense foods. However, the relationship between EE and overeating, and the mediating role of energy-dense foods on this relationship, has not been studied.

OBJECTIVE: This study examined the association between EE and overeating among Latinos and the potential mediating role of energy-dense food consumption on this relationship.

METHODS: This study had a cross-sectional design. Participants were recruited from a community health center. EE was assessed with the Three Factor Eating Behavior Questionnaire R18-V2. Overeating was calculated from the Mifflin-St Jeor equation. Energy-dense food intake was assessed with a Food Frequency Questionnaire. Mediation was tested with bootstrapping.

RESULTS: Participants (n=200) were 53.5% female and 78% were overweight or obese. Approximately 60% of the sample reported EE and 45.5% engaged in overeating. Percentage of calories from energy-dense foods was 23%. EE was significantly associated with overeating (OR total effect=1.23; 95%CI=1.03, 1.45) and this relationship was partly mediated by intake of energy-dense foods (OR indirect effect=1.06; 95%CI=1.02, 1.15; mediated proportion=31.5%).

CONCLUSION: In this Latino sample, EE was positively associated with overeating and intake of energy-dense foods partially mediated this association. Examination of longitudinal associations between EE, energy-dense foods, overeating and obesity is warranted. Understanding these associations may provide information to develop effective interventions to prevent and manage obesity among Latinos.


Emotional eating, Energy-dense foods, Latinos/Hispanic, Overeating

DOI of Published Version



Eat Behav. 2019 Mar 7;33:40-43. doi: 10.1016/j.eatbeh.2019.03.001. [Epub ahead of print] Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Eating behaviors

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID