University of Oulu

Oikarinen, N., Jokelainen, T., Heikkilä, L. et al. Low eating self-efficacy is associated with unfavorable eating behavior tendencies among individuals with overweight and obesity. Sci Rep 13, 7730 (2023).

Low eating self-efficacy is associated with unfavorable eating behavior tendencies among individuals with overweight and obesity

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Author: Oikarinen, Noora1; Jokelainen, Terhi2; Heikkilä, Laura1,3,4,5;
Organizations: 1Research Unit of Biomedicine and Internal Medicine, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Department of Medicine, Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland
3Medical Research Center Oulu, Oulu University Hospital and University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
4Department of Sports and Exercise Medicine, Oulu Deaconess Institute Foundation sr, Oulu, Finland
5Research Unit of Population Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
6Biocenter Oulu, Oulu, Finland
7Research Unit of Health Sciences and Technology (HST), Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
8Department of Medicine, Endocrinology and Clinical Nutrition, Kuopio University Hospital, Kuopio, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.4 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-09-08


Success in long-term weight management depends partly on psychological and behavioral aspects. Understanding the links between psychological factors and eating behavior tendencies is needed to develop more effective weight management methods. This population-based cross-sectional study examined whether eating self-efficacy (ESE) is associated with cognitive restraint (CR), uncontrolled eating (UE), emotional eating (EE), and binge eating (BE). The hypothesis was that individuals with low ESE have more unfavorable eating behavior tendencies than individuals with high ESE. Participants were classified as low ESE and high ESE by the Weight-Related Self-Efficacy questionnaire (WEL) median cut-off point. Eating behavior tendencies were assessed with Three Factor Eating Questionnaire R-18 and Binge Eating Scale, and additionally, by the number of difficulties in weight management. The difficulties were low CR, high UE, high EE, and moderate or severe BE. Five hundred and thirty-two volunteers with overweight and obesity were included in the study. Participants with low ESE had lower CR (p < 0.03) and higher UE, EE, and BE (p < 0.001) than participants with high ESE. Thirty-nine percent of men with low ESE had at least two difficulties in successful weight control while this percentage was only 8% in men with high ESE. In women, the corresponding figures were 56% and 10%. The risk of low ESE was increased by high UE [OR 5.37 (95% CI 1.99–14.51)], high EE [OR 6.05 (95% CI 2.07–17.66)], or moderate or severe BE [OR 12.31 (95% CI 1.52–99.84)] in men, and by low CR [OR 5.19 (95% CI 2.22–12.18)], high UE [OR 7.20 (95% CI 2.41–19.22)], or high EE [OR 23.66 (95% CI 4.79–116.77)] in women. Low ESE was associated with unfavorable eating behavior tendencies and multiple concomitant difficulties in successful weight loss promotion. These eating behavior tendencies should be considered when counseling patients with overweight and obesity.

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Series: Scientific reports
ISSN: 2045-2322
ISSN-E: 2045-2322
ISSN-L: 2045-2322
Volume: 13
Issue: 1
Article number: 7730
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-023-34513-0
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3142 Public health care science, environmental and occupational health
Funding: This research is connected with the DigiHealth and Fibrobesity projects, strategic profiling projects at the University of Oulu, Finland. The project is supported by the Academy of Finland (project number Profi5: 326291 and Profi6: 336449), the Diabetes Research Foundation, the Finnish Foundation for Cardiovascular Research, the Suorsa Healthcare Foundation, and the University of Oulu.
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2023. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit