Dysfunctional eating in an Australian community sample: The role of emotion regulation, impulsivity, and reward and punishment sensitivity
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This study aimed to examine the role of emotion regulation and reinforcement sensitivity in dysfunctional eating behaviours. Two hundred twenty-eight adults from the Australian community completed self-report inventories assessing the variables. Dysfunctional restrained eaters differed from those who did not engage in restrained eating in terms of their emotion regulation, impulsivity, and sensitivity to reward. Difficulties in emotion regulation, low impulsivity, and sensitivity to reward predicted engagement in restrained eating. Emotional eaters significantly differed from those who did not engage in dysfunctional levels of emotional eating in terms of their emotion regulation, impulsivity, and sensitivity towards reward, and difficulties in emotion regulation predicted emotional eating. Finally, dysfunctional external eaters differed from non-dysfunctional external eaters in terms of their emotion regulation, impulsivity, sensitivity towards reward, as well as sensitivity towards punishment, and difficulties with emotion regulation and sensitivity towards reward predicted external eating. These findings highlight the importance of the inclusion of emotional functioning in models of development and maintenance of eating disorders, and support the potential implementation of treatment interventions that address emotion regulation and include strategies to cope with impulsivity and reinforcement sensitivities.
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