Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 139–150 | Cite as

An initial evaluation of a weight loss intervention for individuals who engage in emotional eating

  • Edie Goldbacher
  • Caitlin La Grotte
  • Eugene Komaroff
  • Stephanie Vander Veur
  • Gary D. Foster


Emotional eating may contribute to variability in weight loss and may warrant specialized treatment, although no randomized studies of specialized treatments exist for individuals who engage in emotional eating. This pilot study tested a new weight loss intervention for individuals who emotionally eat and compared it to the standard behavioral weight loss treatment (SBT). 79 predominantly female (95 %), predominantly African American (79.7 %) individuals who emotionally eat (BMI = 36.2 ± 4.1 kg/m2) were randomized to (1) a new enhanced behavioral treatment (EBT), incorporating skills for managing emotions and emotional eating or (2) a SBT. Primary outcomes were weight and emotional eating at 20 weeks. Weight decreased significantly in both groups (SBT: −5.77 kg (−7.49, −4.04); EBT: −5.83 kg (−7.57, −4.09)), with no significant between-group differences. Similar results were produced for emotional eating. Results suggest that SBT may be effective for reducing weight and emotional eating in individuals who emotionally eat, and that adding emotional-eating specific strategies may not provide additional benefits beyond those produced by SBT interventions in the short-term.

Registration site:

Registration number: NCT02055391.


Emotional eating Intervention Weight loss Obesity African-American 



The authors would like to thank Dawn Eichen and Shimrit Black for their contributions to the study, as well as all of the participants in the Eating Well Program.


This study was supported by National Institute of Health F32 DK083910.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

During the study, Dr. Foster served on scientific advisory boards of Con Agra Foods, Tate and Lyle, and United Health Group. Currently, Dr. Foster and Stephanie Vander Veur are full-time employees of Weight Watchers International. Edie Goldbacher, Caitlin La Grotte and Eugene Komaroff declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and animal rights and Informed Consent

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors. Informed consent was obtained from all participants prior to assessment and study participation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edie Goldbacher
    • 1
  • Caitlin La Grotte
    • 1
  • Eugene Komaroff
    • 2
  • Stephanie Vander Veur
    • 3
    • 4
  • Gary D. Foster
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyLa Salle UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Department of EducationKeiser University Graduate SchoolFort LauderdaleUSA
  3. 3.Center for Obesity Research and EducationTemple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  4. 4.Weight Watchers InternationalNew YorkUSA

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