Document Type

Poster Presentation

Publication Date



Research suggests that unhealthy eating behaviors occur for various reasons, most notably by perceiving external cues of food, but also from excessive stress. Research also suggests that people cope by either overeating or undereating in response to stress. There are two possible contributing factors to the presence of emotional undereating and emotional overeating: resilience to stress and self-esteem. The purpose of this study was to examine whether self-esteem and resilience limit emotional undereating (EUE) or emotional over-eating (EOE). Here we show that resilience has more of an impact on both EOE and EUE than self-esteem. In a sample of 183 adults, correlational analyses found that self-esteem and resilience are inversely associated with undereating but not overeating. In exploring these associations further, a multiple regression analysis was conducted by entering both resilience and self-esteem as predictors of undereating. It was found that resilience is the primary buffer in limiting undereating. In other words, those with resilience tend to exhibit healthier eating habits beyond that of one's self-esteem. This is in opposition to the commonly held belief that self-esteem is the main contributing factor to unhealthy eating patterns. It is reasonable to suggest that resilience, defined as an ability to adapt to stress, serves as a mechanism to limit unhealthy eating behaviors when stressed. Self-esteem, on the other hand, does not seem to serve this unique purpose. These results are important in understanding and preventing unhealthy emotional eating behaviors. In particular, building resilience instead of self-esteem, might help curb unhealthy eating.


University of North Florida


Florida Undergraduate Research Conference (FURC)


Jacksonville, FL


College of Arts and Sciences


Emotional Eating, Self-Esteem, and Resilience in Young Adults
Gabriela Barber, Sean Blumenfeld and Sophia Fiz

Mentor: Dr. Patrick Cooper



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