Impact of moods and social context on eating behavior

Appetite. 2001 Apr;36(2):111-8. doi: 10.1006/appe.2000.0385.


The relationship of moods and social context to energy and nutrient intakes was examined to ascertain if these variables interact or function independently. The subjects were 78 predominantly white, obese women participating in weight-loss studies. Mean age was 36.7 (SD=7.6) and mean Body Mass Index was 32.1 (SD=3.6). Subjects completed 2-week baseline food diaries recording everything they ate, including moods and people present during the meals. Meals eaten in positive and negative moods were significantly larger than meals eaten in a neutral mood. Meals eaten with other people were significantly larger than meals eaten alone. There were no significant moods by social context interactions for total energy intake. Moods and social context functioned additively to increase the risk of over-eating. Macro nutrient analysis revealed only a main effect for social context. Percentage of calories from fat and protein were greater, whereas the percentage of carbohydrate was less in social context meals compared to meals eaten alone. Clinicians should conduct a functional analysis to assess exposure to the frequency and types of risky situations. Teaching people to cope more effectively with social situations and moods may increase the efficacy of weight loss and maintenance programs.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Diet Records
  • Energy Intake*
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Weight Loss