Perceived stress affects emotional eating and food choices. However, the extent to which stress associates with food choice motives is not completely understood. This study assessed whether emotional eating mediates the associations between perceived stress levels and food choice motives (i.e., health, mood, convenience, natural content, price, sensory appeal, familiarities, weight control, and ethical concerns) during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 pandemic. A total of 800 respondents were surveyed in the United States in June 2020. Their perceived stress, emotional eating, and food choice motives were assessed by the Perceived Stress Scale, Dutch Eating Behavior Questionnaire, and Food Choice Questionnaire, respectively. Moderate to high levels of perceived stress were experienced by the majority (73.6%) of respondents. Perceived stress was significantly correlated with emotional eating ( = 0.26) as well as five out of nine food choice motives: mood ( = 0.32), convenience ( = 0.28), natural content ( = -0.14), price ( = 0.27), and familiarity ( = 0.15). Emotional eating was significantly correlated with four out of nine food choice motives: mood ( = 0.27), convenience ( = 0.23), price ( = 0.16), and familiarity ( = 0.16). The mediation analyses showed that emotional eating mediates the associations between perceived stress and five food choices motives: mood, convenience, sensory appeal, price, and familiarity. Findings were interpreted using theories and concepts from the humanities, specifically, folklore studies, ritual studies, and symbolic anthropology.
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Shen, Wan; Long, Lucy M.; Shih, Chia-Hao; and Ludy, Mary-Jon, "A Humanities-Based Explanation for the Effects of Emotional Eating and Perceived Stress on Food Choice Motives during the COVID-19 Pandemic" (2020). Public and Allied Health Faculty Publications. 3.