Background: The purpose of this study was to characterize emotional eating and its alternatives in obese patients undergoing bariatric surgery.
Methods: The medical charts of 178 consecutive patients who had laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass provided by a multidisciplinary bariatric program were reviewed. Data from patients who had emotional eating, reported strategies to overcome their urges to emotionally eat, and had their 6 months follow-up after surgery (N=50) were further analyzed in terms of weight history, medical co-morbidity prior to surgery, weight loss after surgery, and lifetime psychiatric status.
Results: 38.7% of the 178 bariatric surgery patients reported emotional eating. Patients reported using three main types of behaviors (oral, sedentary and physical activity) to overcome urges to eat emotionally. Most patients (42%) experiencing emotional eating chose sedentary behaviors to overcome urges to eat in response to emotion. The three groups did not differ in any of the examined variables.
Conclusions: While patients using different coping mechanisms to overcome urges to eat emotionally did not differ before and 6 months after surgery, further research is needed to examine the frequency and long-term effects of emotional eating in bariatric surgery patients.