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Appetite. 2009 Dec;53(3):309-13. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2009.07.006. Epub 2009 Jul 18.

Influence of dietary restraint and environmental factors on meal size in normal-weight women. A laboratory study.

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INSERM U557, INRA U1125, CNAM EA3200, Univ Paris 13, CRNH IdF, Unité de recherche en Epidémiologie Nutritionnelle, France.


In a previous study, we observed that the level of dietary restraint in normal-weight women moderated the stimulating effect of environmental stimuli on meal intake. The present study was designed to confirm and extend this observation. The influence of factors previously shown to affect meal size was investigated: presence of other people, television viewing and listening to radio. Two groups of 20 women were recruited, characterized by high versus low restraint. They participated in five standardised ad libitum lunches, under controlled laboratory conditions: subjects ate alone; in groups; listening to a detective story on the radio; watching television (no food cues); watching food advertisements on television. Lunches had identical menu (main dish and dessert) and were scheduled at 1-week intervals. Visual analogue scales were used to assess hunger, fullness and test-meal palatability. Repeated measures ANOVAs revealed no significant main effect of level of restraint and no interaction with meal conditions. Energy and main dish intakes were lower in the group meal condition than in the other four, which did not significantly differ. Group meals were followed by less intense fullness than the other conditions. These observations raise questions about the factors affecting social influence at meal times; gender, level of acquaintance and inhibitory norm are discussed. Our results also suggest that the intake stimulating effects of various external sources of distraction at meal time could vary in different populations.

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