Background and aims
Stress-related to self-isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic has shown a strong correlation with issues in the diet and health of the population.
In this study, we aimed to relate the perceived stress of a group of Ecuadorian adults with emotional eating.
Cross-sectional design study. We applied validated questionnaires of perceived stress and emotional eating to adults of both sexes who virtually completed a form between the months of January and March 2021. The analyzes were carried out using Chi2 statistical tests, Student’s t-tests and a multiple linear regression model., the analyzes were performed using the statistical software R.
The sample was composed of 2333 participants, the median age was 25 years (interquartile range 21–37 years). Females reported more perceived stress than males (77.91% vs. 22.09%).
Nearly 64% of participants who displayed perceived stress were emotional eaters.
A statistically significant association was found between the emotional eating score and perceived stress (p < 0.001), the effect was an elevation of 0.44 points in the emotional eating score for each stress point perceived. For each unit increase in BMI the emotional eating score increased 0.26 units (p < 0.001) and for each unit increase in age the emotional eating score decreased by 0.27 units (p = 0.03).
It is concluded that stress is associated to emotional eating.
Dietary intake that responds to emotions and not to physiological hunger may have long-term problems related to an unhealthy diet. It is recommended to consider stress and emotional eating in the nutritional care process of people.