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Eur Eat Disord Rev. 2008 Jan;16(1):67-76.

Thought suppression in obese and non-obese restrained eaters: piece of cake or forbidden fruit?

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Department of Developmental, Personality and Social Psychology, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.



This article examines thought suppression tendencies in restrained eaters. Furthermore, the dynamics between failing thought suppression and thought control strategies are explored.


One hundred and five overweight and normal-weight boys and girls (12-18 years) participated in a cross-sectional questionnaire-based study. A distinction was made between disinhibited restrained eaters (high restraint/high disinhibition), inhibited restrained eaters (high restraint/low disinhibition) and unrestrained eaters (low restraint) in both weight-groups. The Dutch Eating Behaviour Questionnaire (DEBQ) was used to select the different groups of (un)restrained eaters. The White Bear Suppression Inventory (WBSI) was employed to measure thought suppression and intrusions. The Thought Control Questionnaire (TCQ) was used to measure thought control strategies (distraction, punishment, reappraisal, worry, social control).


The disinhibited restrainers obtained meaningfully higher scores on WBSI-total, WBSI-thought suppression and WBSI-intrusion than the inhibited restrainers and unrestrained eaters in both weight groups. Those who scored high on WBSI-total, obtained significantly higher scores on the TCQ subscales distraction, worry and punishment, than those who scored low on WBSI-total.


The findings suggest that disinhibited restrainers, irrespective of their weight status, report a high tendency to suppress thoughts. Given Wegner's theoretical account, this may be associated with preoccupations and self-control difficulties.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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