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Genes, brain, and emotionsInterdisciplinary and Translational Perspectives$
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Andrei C. Miu, Judith R. Homberg, and Klaus-Peter Lesch

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198793014

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198793014.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 27 July 2021

Causes of distress-induced emotional eating

Causes of distress-induced emotional eating

(p.366) Chapter 24 Causes of distress-induced emotional eating
Genes, brain, and emotions

Tatjana van Strien

Oxford University Press

Distress is associated with both increased and decreased food intake, with eating less being the typical and predominant response. Distress is normally associated with physiological reactions that are designed to prepare the individual for a fight or flight response, thereby suppressing feelings of hunger. However, so-called emotional eaters show the atypical response to distress of eating similar or larger amounts of food. The present chapter explores possible causes of distress-induced emotional eating in terms of mechanisms and etiology. Possible mechanisms that are discussed are stress-induced hunger, interoceptive awareness, alexithymia, and changes in the stress responses of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis (cortisol). Etiology, that is, the emergence of emotional eating in adolescence will be examined by presenting studies on increases in emotional eating in association with inadequate parenting and depressive feelings in interaction with genetic vulnerability (the dopamine D2 receptor gene (DRD2) or serotonin transporter gene (SCL6A4/5-HTT)). Finally, emotional eating as a mediator between depression and both body mass index and weight gain will be examined and suggestions for obesity interventions and future research will be given.

Keywords:   emotional eating, hunger, interoceptive awareness, alexithymia, cortisol stress reactivity, DRD2, SCL6A4/5-HTT, depression, therapy

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