Smoking by Young Women With Restrained Eating Following a Food Prime in the Context of an Alternative Distractor


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Abstract

Female smokers with elevated dietary restraint (high restrainers) may smoke more than nonrestrained eaters after a disinhibiting food event. The current study aimed to determine whether high restrainers smoke merely to distract themselves from unplanned eating or whether the weight-control aspects of smoking play a role. Primary aims were to test the effect of restraint status and a food prime on smoking and eating behavior in the presence of an alternative distractor (a computer tablet) and to examine the role of expectancies. Utilizing a between-subject design, female smokers (N = 128) were randomized to receive a milkshake prime (Prime condition) or not (No-Prime). They then received access to tempting foods, cigarettes, and the computer tablet. As expected, higher dietary restraint predicted shorter latency to smoke and craving to smoke but not latency to use the tablet. Additionally, a pattern of proximal expectancy subscales associated with weight/appetite control predicted cigarette consumption. Neither restraint nor expectancies interacted with condition to predict smoking behavior. Findings suggest that dietary restrainers attempt to prevent food consumption by turning to cigarettes, beyond preference for other salient distracting stimuli. Thus, smoking appears to function as more than simply a distractor from eating, and it is also associated with strong beliefs about weight and appetite control. Results offer implications for assessment and intervention among individuals presenting for smoking cessation treatment, particularly young adult women. Specifically, assessment of dietary restraint and expectancies related to weight and appetite aspects of smoking may be important to consider for tailored interventions.

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