Emotional eaters -- people who eat when they are lonely
or blue -- tend to lose the least amount of weight and
have the hardest time keeping it off, U.S. researchers
They said the study may explain why so many people who
lose weight gain it all back.
"We found that the more people report eating in
response to thoughts and feelings, the less weight they
lost," Heather Niemeier, an obesity researcher at
The Miriam Hospital and The Warren Alpert Medical School
of Brown University, said in a statement.
"Amongst successful weight losers, those who report
emotional eating are more likely to regain," said
Niemeier, whose study appears in the journal Obesity.
The study included 286 overweight men and women who were
participating in a behavioral weight loss program.
A second group consisted of more than 3,300 adults who
have lost at least 30 pounds and kept it off for at least
Niemeier and her team analyzed responses to an eating
They focused on people who ate because of external influences,
such as people who eat too much at parties, and people
who ate because of internal influences, such as feeling
lonely or as a reward.
What they found is that the more a person ate for internal
reasons, the less weight they lost over time.
"Our results suggest that we need to pay more attention
to eating triggered by emotions or thoughts as they clearly
play a significant role in weight loss," Niemeier