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J Nutr. 2004 Sep;134(9):2372-80.

The Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire-R18 is able to distinguish among different eating patterns in a general population.

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INSERM U258, Villejuif, France.


A revised version of the Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire (TFEQ) was developed in an obese population, but its applicability to the general population was not assessed. We aimed to define the relationship between eating behavior and reported food intake. This was a cross-sectional study of 529 middle-aged adults and 358 teenagers and young adults recruited on a geographical basis. The TFEQ-R18 measures 3 aspects of eating behavior: cognitive restraint (CR), uncontrolled eating (UE), and emotional eating. Reported food intake was calculated from a food frequency questionnaire. Girls who scored higher on restrained eating had a lower energy intake than the other girls (9164 kJ vs. 13,163 kJ, P < 0.001). In adult men, energy intake increased with UE (9663 kJ vs. 11,029 kJ in the lower and higher UE tertiles, respectively, P < 0.05). When specific food groups were analyzed, higher CR was positively associated in adults with healthy food groups like green vegetables [OR = 1.92 (0.68-2.44)] and negatively associated with French fries [OR = 0.35 (0.22-0.57)] and sugar [OR = 0.38 (0.23-0.61)]. Energy-dense foods, such as fat, were positively associated with UE [OR = 2.28 (1.46-3.57) for dietary fat]. Finally, emotional eaters had a higher snacking food intake. In teenagers and young adults, most associations were seen with CR. Converse to observations in adults, teenagers and young adults who exhibited a high cognitive restraint reported consumption of fewer energy-dense foods rather than more "healthy foods." The TFEQ-R18 was therefore able to distinguish among different eating patterns in our sample of a French general population.

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