Associations between objective physical activity and emotional eating among adiposity-discordant siblings using ecological momentary assessment and accelerometers

Kathryn E. Smith, Shannon M. O'Connor, Tyler B. Mason, Shirlene Wang, Eldin Dzubur, Ross D. Crosby, Stephen A. Wonderlich, Sarah Jeanne Salvy, Denise M. Feda, James N. Roemmich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Emotional eating is associated with obesity, though less is known regarding factors that predict emotional eating episodes in children and adolescents. Objectives: To investigate whether moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) or total activity counts 60 minutes prior to psychological stress predicted stress-related eating and positive emotional eating (ie, eating while happy), and whether adiposity (z-BMI) moderated these associations. Methods: Participants were drawn from a prior study of siblings (N = 77; mean age = 15.4 ± 1.4 years) discordant for weight status (39 non-overweight siblings, 38 siblings with overweight/obesity) who completed an ecological momentary assessment protocol with accelerometer-based assessment of physical activity. Results: Greater MVPA was associated with lower stress-related eating across the sample. Lower total activity (between-person effects) and lower MVPA (within-person effects) were associated with greater stress-related eating for siblings with greater z-BMI. Greater total activity was associated with lower positive emotional eating for siblings with lower z-BMI (between- and within-person). Conclusions: Findings demonstrate potential regulating effects of prior physical activity on emotional eating at the individual and momentary level, though there are nuances depending on z-BMI. Future work is needed to examine underlying mechanisms and timescale of effects, and particularly the extent to which enhancing MVPA time among youth with z-BMI may mitigate momentary risk of stress-related eating episodes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12720
JournalPediatric Obesity
Volume16
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health Policy
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

Keywords

  • adolescents
  • ecological momentary assessment
  • emotional eating
  • physical activity
  • stress

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