Restrained Eaters: Body Weight, Preloads, and Private Settings

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Studies that found failure of overweight restrained eaters to counterregulate following a preload may have been flawed by their low-privacy (i.e., self-consciousness-inducing) eating settings. In this study, 69 normal-weight and overweight female subjects, classified as low- or high-restraint eaters, were preloaded; subsequent eating was monitored in either a low- or a high-privacy setting. Setting was as strong a predictor of eating as was restraint status, and body weight was irrelevant as a predictor. No interactions emerged; the high-privacy setting disinhibited eating in most groups. The authors question results of eating studies conducted in usual low-privacy settings; they speculate that many so-called restrained eaters show cognitions but not eating behaviors associated with restrained eating and that restraint theory fails to account for the complexity of disordered eating.

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