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J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2006 Jun;61(6):628-33.

High cognitive dietary restraint is associated with increased cortisol excretion in postmenopausal women.

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



Cognitive dietary restraint (perceived ongoing effort to limit dietary intake to manage body weight) is common in women at all life stages. In young women, high dietary restraint has been associated with both increased excretion of cortisol (a stress hormone) and reduced bone mass. Whether this occurs in older women is unknown and is reported here for the first time.


Postmenopausal women (49-75 years old) with high (n = 41) or low (n = 37) dietary restraint were compared to examine differences in urinary cortisol excretion, body composition assessed by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (bone mineral density, % body fat), dietary intake, anthropometrics, current exercise, and perceived stress.


Women with high or low dietary restraint did not differ in age, body mass index, waist-to-hip ratio, energy intake, perceived stress, current exercise, or measures of body composition. However, urinary cortisol excretion was higher in the high restraint group (248.2 +/- 61.7 nmol/d vs 204.3 +/- 66.1 nmol/d; p =.01). Multiple regression analysis indicated that restraint group (high or low) independently predicted 7.6% of the variance in cortisol excretion.


Postmenopausal women with high dietary restraint excrete more cortisol than do those with low restraint, suggesting that dietary restraint may be a source of stress. Although this was not associated with negative health effects in this sample, further investigation is warranted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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