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Getting to the heart of the matter: Does aberrant interoceptive processing contribute towards emotional eating?
PLOS ONE, Volume: 12, Issue: 10, Start page: e0186312
Swansea University Authors: Hayley Young, Claire Williams , Aimee Pink, Gary Freegard, David Benton
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DOI (Published version): 10.1371/journal.pone.0186312
According to estimates from Public Health England, by 2034 70% of adults are expected to be overweight or obese, therefore understanding the underpinning aetiology is a priority. Eating in response to negative affect contributes towards obesity, however, little is known about the underlying mechanis...
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According to estimates from Public Health England, by 2034 70% of adults are expected to be overweight or obese, therefore understanding the underpinning aetiology is a priority. Eating in response to negative affect contributes towards obesity, however, little is known about the underlying mechanisms. Evidence that visceral afferent signals contribute towards the experience of emotion is accumulating rapidly, with the emergence of new influential models of ‘active inference’. No longer viewed as a ‘bottom up’ process, new interoceptive facets based on ‘top down’ predictions have been proposed, although at present it is unclear which aspects of interoception contribute to aberrant eating behaviour and obesity. Study one examined the link between eating behaviour, body mass index and the novel interoceptive indices; interoceptive metacognitive awareness (IAw) and interoceptive prediction error (IPE), as well as the traditional measures; interoceptive accuracy (IAc) and interoceptive sensibility (IS). The dissociation between these interoceptive indices was confirmed. Emotional eaters were characterised by a heightened interoceptive signal but reduced meta-cognitive awareness of their interoceptive abilities. In addition, emotional eating correlated with IPE; effects that could not be accounted for by differences in anxiety and depression. Study two confirmed the positive association between interoceptive accuracy and emotional eating using a novel unbiased heartbeat discrimination task based on the method of constant stimuli. Results reveal new and important mechanistic insights into the processes that may underlie problematic affect regulation in overweight populations.
Emotional eating; obesity; introception
Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences