Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Eating disorders and emotional responses to food

There are now thought to be strong links between emotions and eating disorders. People with anorexia have an intense fear of gaining weight and anorexics and obese women who binge eat have been found to have higher rates of alexithymia which is the inability to identify and express emotions. Negative emotions such as shame, guilt and disgust surround binge-eating and purging behaviours and eating disorders are often accompanied by mood and anxiety disorders. However, there have been fewer studies of people's responses to food per se. An Australian study of 629 secondary-school pupils and university students found that with increasing age people felt less emotion regarding food (either happiness, fear and disgust) but more dissatisfaction with their bodies. Compared to females males showed significantly higher levels of a 'happy' response to food. In adult females a 'fear' response to food was associated with increase levels of eating concern and body dissatisfaction.

McNamara, Caroline ... [et al] - Emotional responses to food, body dissatisfaction and other eating disorder features in children, adolescents and young adults. Appetite January 2008, 50(1), 102-109

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