Abstract

The research examined the role of an affective state and immediate surrounds as possible antecedents of eating, utilising Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA), repeated assessments of current psychological and situational states in participants’ natural environments. 136 adults [55 with disordered eating (DE) and 81 controls] were recruited from the community and they completed event-contingent and random assessments over a seven-day period. Psychological and situational variables relative to eating were investigated to test if there was a significant difference in negative affect, hunger levels, time and location. To account for the nesting of multiple categorical observations within subjects, data were analysed using generalised estimating equations and autoregressive correlation, a repeated measure MANOVA and paired-sample t-tests.Levels of guilt and disgust were higher at eating episodes in DE participants and feelings of guilt and dissatisfaction with self were higher after eating. Being at home and being alone were both found to act as antecedents for eating in DE, whereas controls were more likely to eat whilst out in social situations. The affective state of an individual and their surrounding context, appear to be integral to the eating patterns of individuals with DE.