Regular exercise may reduce episodes of disinhibited and overeating  

1. The exercise group displayed a 5% reduction in overeating episodes compared to the control group.

2. In comparison to the control group, the exercise group demonstrated an increase in dietary restraint and a reduction in disinhibited eating driven by internal disinhibition.

Evidence Rating Level: 2 (Good)

Hedonic eating habits represent a difficult barrier to overcome with respect to weight control, as they can be influenced by various emotional states. Although exercising has the ability to regulate weight over time, little is known about its ability to indirectly affect eating behaviors. As a result, the primary goal of this study was to determine the effect of a 12-week exercise program on episodes of overeating as well as eating behaviors.

This randomized control trial included 49 inactive adult women who had a body mass index of 25-40 kg/m2 and a history of stress-induced overeating. Patients who recently lost weight or who were currently enrolled in a weight loss program were excluded. Participants were randomized to either a 12-week exercise group or the control group where no changes were made to their prior exercising habits. Further, all participants completed questionnaires to assess their eating patterns using ecological momentary assessments. The results of this study demonstrated that the exercise group reported a 5% reduction in overeating episodes compared to the control group. Further, participants in the exercise group exhibited an increase in dietary restraint, a reduction in disinhibited eating and were less likely to give into dietary temptation compared to the control group. One key strength of this study was that participants were assessed over a 14-day period in real time under free living conditions. Conversely, the inclusion of only women in this study limits its generalizability to men. Nonetheless, this study’s findings support the hypothesis that exercise may positively impact eating behaviors among women who are overweight or obese.

Click to read the study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise

Image: PD

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