The Associations between Emotional Eating and Consumption of Energy-Dense Snack Foods Are Modified by Sex and Depressive Symptomatology.

J Nutr. 2014 144(8):1264-73

Camilleri GM, Méjean C, Kesse-Guyot E, Andreeva VA, Bellisle F, Hercberg S, Péneau S

In recent years, emotional eating (EmE) has incited substantial research interest as an important psychologic determinant of food intake and overweight. However, little is known about factors that might modulate its relations with dietary habits. The objective was to examine the association between EmE and consumption of energy-dense snack food and assess the 2-way interaction of EmE with sex and depressive symptoms. A total of 7378 men and 22,862 women from the NutriNet-Santé cohort (France, 2009-2013) who completed ≥6 self-reported 24-h food records were included in this cross-sectional analysis. EmE was evaluated via the revised 21-item Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire. Depressive symptoms were assessed by the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale. The associations between EmE and energy-dense food consumption were assessed by multivariable logistic and linear regression models adjusted for sociodemographic and lifestyle factors. Higher EmE was associated with higher consumption of energy-dense snacks and, in particular, with consumption of sweet-and-fatty foods across most categories studied. However, these associations were stronger in women with depressive symptoms (e.g., high consumption of chocolate, OR: 1.77, 95% CI: 1.43, 2.20; cakes/biscuits/pastries, OR: 1.81, 95% CI: 1.45, 2.26) compared with those without depressive symptoms (e.g., high consumption of chocolate, OR: 1.52, 95% CI: 1.36, 1.69; cakes/biscuits/pastries, OR: 1.44, 95% CI: 1.29, 1.61). In contrast, the significant positive associations observed in men without depressive symptoms (e.g., high consumption of chocolate, OR: 1.33, 95% CI: 1.16, 1.52; cakes/biscuits/pastries, OR: 1.28, 95% CI: 1.11, 1.48) were not found in men with depressive symptoms. In conclusion, in women, EmE was positively associated with consumption of energy-dense snack food, particularly in those with depressive symptoms. For men, the relation between EmE and energy-dense snack foods was found only in those without depressive symptoms. These findings call for consideration of the psychologic state when targeting unhealthy dietary habits, especially in women. This trial was registered at as 2013-000929-31.