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Am J Clin Nutr. 2002 Mar;75(3):476-83.

Eating behavior correlates of adult weight gain and obesity in healthy women aged 55-65 y.

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Jean Mayer US Department of Agriculture, Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston 02111, USA.



The specific underlying causes of adult weight gain remain uncertain.


The objective was to determine the association of 3 measures of eating behavior with weight gain and body mass index (BMI; in kg/m(2)) in adults.


Current dietary restraint, disinhibition, and hunger were assessed with the use of the Eating Inventory in 638 healthy, nonsmoking women aged 55-65 y. In addition, subjects reported their current weight and height, their weight for 6 age intervals, and changes in voluntary dietary energy restriction over the past 10 y. Current weight and height were validated in 10% of subjects.


Current disinhibition strongly predicted weight gain and current BMI (partial r = 0.27 and 0.34, respectively, both P < 0.001). Neither restraint nor hunger was a significant independent predictor of either variable, but the positive associations between disinhibition and both weight gain and BMI were attenuated by restraint (P = 0.016 and 0.010, respectively, after adjustment for confounding variables). In the subpopulation of women who reported a stable level of voluntary dietary energy restriction, disinhibition also strongly predicted weight gain and higher BMI, and restraint was negatively associated with weight gain (partial r = -0.17, P = 0.019).


Higher disinhibition is strongly associated with greater adult weight gain and higher current BMI, and dietary restraint may attenuate this association when disinhibition is high. These findings suggest that eating behavior has an important role in the prevention of adult-onset obesity and that further studies are warranted.

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