2. Causes and Theories

Emotional eating tends to more common in women than men and is uncommon in children. It is a recognized psychiatric condition that experts believe often originates or is made worse by individual, family, and cultural factors. Identifying the underlying cause helps direct management of the condition.

Depression and obesity are often associated with emotional eating habits. Diets that restrict food intake can result in emotional eating and subsequent weight gain in vulnerable individuals. Some people have poor self-awareness that results in a disordered sensitivity to feelings of fullness, leading to eating when not hungry. Some of these issues are related to parenting practices beginning in childhood.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is also linked to emotional eating. Normally, people experience reduced hunger after a stressful event, but people with PTSD may have unusually high feelings of hunger after stress and overeat in response.

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