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Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Jul;90(1):33-40. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2008.26558. Epub 2009 May 13.

Dieting, restraint, and disinhibition predict women's weight change over 6 y.

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  • 1Center for Childhood Obesity Research, Department of Nutritional Sciences and Human Development and Family Studies, the Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA.



Although disinhibited eating is positively associated with higher weight in women, it is not known whether restrained eating and dieting moderate the influence of disinhibited eating on weight change.


The objective was to investigate over 6 y the interactive effects of restrained and disinhibited eating and self-reported dieting to lose weight as predictors of weight gain in women.


Data were collected from non-Hispanic white women (n = 163) every 2 y. Height and weight were measured in triplicate. Dietary restraint and disinhibition were assessed by using the Eating Inventory. Participants were also asked if they were "currently dieting to lose weight." Multilevel modeling was used to examine change in weight as a function of time-invariant and time-varying predictors, including dietary restraint, dietary disinhibition, and self-reported dieting.


After covariates were adjusted for, growth curve models showed that within-person increases in restraint over time were associated with concurrent decreases in weight and that higher levels of restraint moderated the positive association between dietary disinhibition and weight. Women who reported dieting at study entry were heavier at study entry and gained more weight over time than did nondieters. Finally, a significant interaction between restraint, disinhibition, and dieting showed that restraint moderated the effect of disinhibition on weight differently in nondieters than in dieters.


Increasing levels of dietary restraint may be beneficial in moderating weight by attenuating the positive association between disinhibition and weight in dieting women. An understanding of weight and weight change requires examination of the interactive effects of restraint, disinhibition, and dieting.

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