Journal article Open Access
Eating behaviour can be driven by non-homeostatic factors like stress. Both increased and decreased food intake in response to stress has been documented, but it has remained difficult to identify a trait that predicts who shows either pattern. Thus, we collected naturalistic data from Ecological Momentary Assessment in combination with the trait-level Salzburg Stress Eating Scale (SSES). In study 1, 97 individuals completed the SSES and 6 daily reports about stress, food craving and perceived food intake across 8 days, whereas in study 2, 83 diet-interested participants completed the same measures at 4 daily prompts across 14 days. Consistent across both studies, multilevel modelling revealed that participants with high SSES-scores showed relatively more positive intra-day stress-craving relationships than those with low SSES-scores. On the day level, stress also predicted perceived food intake as a function of SSES-scores. Controlling for negative affect did not alter results. Results support an individual difference model of stress-eating where decrease vs increase of eating depends on SSES-scores. In affected individuals stress influences simultaneous food craving but might exhibit cumulative or delayed effects on food intake. Furthermore, the SSES provides a valid instrument for identifying at risk individuals and for tailoring interventions.
Does stress eat away at you or make you eat EMA measures of stress predict day to day food craving and perceived food intake as a function of trait.pdf