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Emotional overeating and its associations with eating disorder psychopathology among overweight patients with binge eating disorder.

OBJECTIVE: The current study examined emotional overeating in overweight patients with binge eating disorder (BED). A new measure--the Emotional Overeating Questionnaire (EOQ)--was developed to measure the frequency of overeating in response to emotions. The internal consistency, test-retest reliability, and factor structure of this measure were examined, and its associations with eating disorder psychopathology, depression, and gender were explored.

METHOD: Two hundred twenty consecutive overweight (body mass index [BMI] > or = 25) treatment-seeking BED patients (48 men and 172 women) were administered the EOQ, which assesses overeating frequency in response to six emotions (anxiety, sadness, loneliness, tiredness, anger, and happiness). A subset of patients (n = 83) completed the measure again approximately 1 week later. BMI was measured, and participants completed measures of eating disorder psychopathology.

RESULTS: The EOQ was internally consistent (alpha =.85), its items were significantly and moderately correlated (range .32 to .70) with each other, and principal components analysis revealed one factor accounting for 58% of the variance. The EOQ items and total score were characterized by good test-retest reliability (intraclass correlation coefficients [ICCs] ranged from .62 to .73). Significant correlations were found between the emotional overeating items and total score, and binge frequency, eating disorder features, and depressive symptomatology. Emotional overeating was unrelated to BMI, and men and women reported similar rates of emotional overeating.

CONCLUSION: Emotional overeating was significantly associated with binge frequency, eating disorder features, and depression, but was not related to BMI or gender.

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