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Appetite. 2003 Apr;40(2):185-92.

Cognitive dietary restraint is associated with eating behaviors, lifestyle practices, personality characteristics and menstrual irregularity in college women.

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  • 1Human Nutrition, University of British Columbia, 2205 East Mall, B.C., Vancouver, Canada V6T 1Z4.


This study characterized associations of restraint with selected physical, lifestyle, personality and menstrual cycle characteristics in female university students. The survey instrument, distributed to 1350 women, included standardized questionnaires (Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire, Perceived Stress Scale and Rosenberg's Self-esteem Scale), and assessed weight and dieting history, exercise, lifestyle characteristics, menstrual cycle characteristics and whether participants were following vegetarian diets. Among the 596 respondents included in the analysis (44%), women with high (n=145), medium (n=262) or low (n=189) restraint had similar ages, heights and weights. Despite this, compared to women with low scores, those with high scores exercised more (4.6+/-5.3 vs. 3.2+/-3.5 h/wk), were more likely to be vegetarian (14.5 vs. 3.7%), have a history of eating disorders (13.7 vs. 1.2%), be currently trying to lose weight (80.3 vs. 15.3%), report irregular menstrual cycles (34.7 vs. 17.0%), and have scores reflecting lower self-esteem and higher perceived stress. Menstrual irregularity was an independent predictor of restraint score, and restraint score was the only variable to differentiate women with regular and irregular menstrual cycles. We conclude that women with high restraint may use a combination of behavioral strategies for weight control, and differ from women with low restraint scores in personality characteristics and weight history. Some of these behaviors or characteristics may influence menstrual function.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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