Impulse Control in Negative Mood States, Emotional Eating, and Food Addiction are Associated with Lower Quality of Life in Adolescents with Severe Obesity (2017)

J Pediatr Psychol. 2017 Oct 16. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/jsx127.

Rose MH1, Nadler EP2, Mackey ER1.



Quality of life (QoL) is an important outcome to evaluate in adolescents with severe obesity, yet intrapersonal predictors of QoL are understudied. The current study assessed whether difficulty with impulse control when experiencing a negative mood (negative urgency) is associated with poorer QoL, mediated by more emotional eating and food addiction.


Participants consisted of 69 primarily female (71%), minority (76%) adolescents aged 13-21 (M age = 16.5, SD = 1.5) with severe obesity presenting for prebariatric surgery psychological evaluations. Structural Equation Modeling was used to appraise a model of the association of adolescent report of negative urgency with more emotional eating (Emotional Eating Scale for Children) and food addiction (Yale Food Addiction Scale) and poorer weight-related QoL (Impact of Weight on Quality of Life-Kids).


Greater difficulty controlling behavior when experiencing a negative mood was significantly associated with poorer weight-related QoL, and this relationship was mediated by an association with emotional eating and food addiction such that adolescents with severe obesity who reported more difficulties with impulse control in negative mood states were more likely to report more emotional eating and food addiction, which was in turn associated with lower QoL.


Intrapersonal factors, including impulse control in negative mood states, are associated with lower QoL in adolescents with severe obesity. Interventions aimed at reducing frequency of negative affect, reducing impulsivity in negative mood states, and improving coping skills that are not eating based may contribute to improved QoL and merit further study.

KEYWORDS: adolescents; emotional eating; impulsivity; obesity; quality of life

PMID: 29048569

DOI: 10.1093/jpepsy/jsx127