Date of Award

January 2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Marney White


Overweight and obesity have become incredibly pressing public health issues in the United States. Rising rates of prevalence pose grave risks to population health and underscore the need for a greater understanding of the underlying mechanisms that contribute to increased eating and weight gain. While stress and negative affect (NA) have been recognized as possible predictors, the literature is inconsistent and experimental studies have produced mixed results. Therefore, we conducted a comprehensive quantitative meta-analysis to assess the prospective effects of stress and NA on eating and weight outcomes, following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA). We used Google Scholar to identify relevant peer-reviewed articles published through 2022 and assessed studies according to our pre-established inclusion/exclusion criteria. Extracted data were entered into Comprehensive Meta-Analysis software (Version 3.0) to calculate standardized effect sizes (r). Across 66 studies and 213 statistics representing 8,160 participants, we found a significant small prospective effect of stress and NA on eating and weight outcomes (r=0.114, CI: 0.066–0.161, p<0.001). We further conducted moderator analyses to compare the effects of various types of measures, outcomes, and sample characteristics. These results provide evidence supporting the roles of stress and NA in increasing eating and weight gain. Further, our findings offer important insight into the improvement of preventive and interventive efforts for eating and weight management.


This thesis is restricted to Yale network users only. It will be made publicly available on 05/10/2025