PTSD is associated with emotional eating among veterans seeking treatment for overweight/obesity


This article explores the relation between emotional eating and post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans.


Both obesity and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are common among veterans. Veterans with PTSD are at higher risk for obesity and have poorer outcomes in obesity treatment. We examined emotional eating among veterans presenting for obesity treatment, and its relationship with PTSD. Veterans completed questionnaire batteries before initiating treatment. Participants were 120 veterans with a mean age of 62 years and mean BMI of 38. A positive PTSD screen was associated with significantly higher scores on the Yale Emotional Overeating Questionnaire (YEOQ) overall, as well as higher scores on each individual item, which includes anxiety, sadness, loneliness, tiredness, anger, happiness, boredom, guilt, and physical pain (all p < 0.005). Higher scores on the PTSD screener were associated with more frequent emotional eating for all emotions as well. Findings suggest that emotional eating is common among veterans reporting PTSD symptoms, and that any degree of PTSD symptom severity is associated with more frequent emotional eating. Veterans with PTSD may need specific attention given to alternative coping strategies when facing difficult emotions as part of weight loss treatment.

Full Reference

Dorflinger, L. M. and Masheb, R. M., 2018. PTSD is associated with emotional eating among veterans seeking treatment for overweight/obesity. Eating Behaviours, 31, pp. 8-11. Available at: <>.