Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.Sc.)




Catherine A Forestell

Committee Member

Adrian J Bravo

Committee Member

Xiaowen Xu


Emotional eating is defined as the tendency to increase food consumption in order to modify negative emotional states. Although it is counter to the more typical response of decreasing food intake in the face of distress, emotional eating is observed in both eating disordered and healthy populations and is associated with overweight and obesity. Theories on emotional eating attribute its cause to inadequate emotion regulation, specifically an inability to draw awareness to and accept distress. Mindfulness, or the ability to pay attention to one's internal and external experiences, is negatively associated with both emotional eating and psychological distress. Only one study to date (Pidgeon et al., 2013), however, has examined the moderating role of trait mindfulness in the relationship between psychological distress and emotional eating. Pidgeon and colleagues utilized a mainly undergraduate sample, and a unidimensional measure of mindfulness, which failed to capture the complexity of the construct. The present study replicated and extended the findings of Pidgeon and colleagues with the Five Factor Mindfulness Questionnaire to probe the effects of specific facets of mindfulness on the relationship between internalizing distress and emotional eating in a diverse community sample (N = 248). Results indicated that depression significantly interacted with nonjudging of inner experience. Analysis of the interaction revealed that there were significant differences between low, average, and high levels of nonjudging only at low levels of depression. At low levels of depression, those who were high in nonjudging endorsed less emotional eating than those who were average or low in nonjudging. Anxiety did not significantly interact with any of the five mindfulness facets to predict emotional eating. These findings further delineate the moderating role of specific aspects of trait mindfulness in the association between depressive symptoms and emotional eating and may inform more targeted intervention and prevention efforts.




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