Eating is a coping mechanism for many individuals. Some people use it to minimize pain, others to fill a loss. “Emotional eating is a change in the consumption of food in response to emotional stimuli, and has been linked to negative physical and psychological outcomes,” said Afton M. Koball of the Psychology Department at Bowling Green State University, and lead author of a recent study examining boredom in relation to emotional eating. “One shortcoming of the current literature on emotional eating is that few studies have examined specific emotional states that influence eating, as variability in emotional eating has been found across emotions,” said Koball.
In an attempt to understand more about the link between emotional eating and boredom, Koball and colleagues enlisted 139 college students and interviewed them using open-ended questionnaires. They asked them to report their eating habits in relation to the items on the original Emotional Eating Scale (EES) and added additional boredom subscales to offer participants a wider range of answers. “The original EES grouped emotions into three subscales: (a) Depression, (b) Anxiety, and (c) Anger/Frustration,” said the team. “For this study, six items were added (in addition to “Bored” from the original EES) to assess eating when bored for a total of 31 items.”
After assessing the students’ questionnaires, the researchers realized that boredom was a leading factor for emotional eating. “In addition to the finding that boredom is a relevant emotion that precedes eating, the exploratory factor analysis showed that the inclusion of a boredom subscale is a psychometrically valid addition to the EES,” they said. “The boredom subscale had good internal consistency and high rates of endorsement; higher in fact, than any of the other subscales, providing compelling evidence that boredom should be included in future research on emotional eating.”
Koball, A. M., Meers, M. R., Storfer-Isser, A., Domoff, S. E., & Musher-Eizenman, D. R. (2011, October 17). Eating When Bored: Revision of the Emotional Eating Scale With a Focus on Boredom. Health Psychology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0025893
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