Eating and Emotion: Assessing the Relationship Between Eating Patterns and Difficulty in Emotion Regulation in a Bariatric Surgery Seeking Sample

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Morbid obesity, defined by having a BMI of 40 or greater, has gained increasing attention. Despite a greater number of bariatric surgery cases for the treatment of obesity, research has demonstrated concerning results for patients, particularly involving weight regain and the development of mental illness. Patients seeking bariatric surgery are often required to complete a psychological evaluation to determine readiness for the procedure and associated post-operative lifestyle changes. However, research suggests mixed results in determining predictors for post-surgical success. Few studies have looked at emotionality and eating patterns in bariatric surgery seeking patients, though emotional eating is often talked about in the literature. It is likely that emotional eating and problematic patterns of emotional regulation that may contribute to obesity carry implications for post-surgical mental health and weight loss maintenance. In the current study, 30 bariatric surgery-seeking patients have thus far completed the Dutch Eating Behaviors Questionnaire and the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale. Preliminary data suggest a significant relationship between emotional eating patterns and a difficulty in emotion regulation (r= .397, p = .049). Trends toward significance were also discovered between difficulties in emotion regulation and restricted and external eating patterns (restrained, r = -.356, p = .081; external, r = .330, p = .099). This preliminary data is part of a larger study on emotion and eating patterns in bariatric surgery seeking patients, and additional data will help us better understand these relationships. Results may have implications for intervention regarding emotional dysregulation prior to and following bariatric surgery.


Johnson City, TN

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