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Thesis ABSTRACT

The discriminative ability of eating restraint and disinhibition to predict eating self-efficacy and eating disorder risk
by Lakins, Nekisha, M.A., University of Maryland Baltimore County, 2003

Restricted food intake is believed to be a risk behavior along a continuum that leads to the development of clinically diagnosed eating disorders. The construct of restrained eating represents a continued practice of restricted food intake that was believed to result in disinhibition of eating restraint for those who engaged in it. However, recent research has discovered a significant difference between the constructs of restrained eating and disinhibition of restraint. The constructs were confounded early on in their investigation (Westenhoefer and Pudel, 1989), but the discovery that these two constructs are dichotomous has led to a better understanding of eating behavior. There has been, however, no investigation of how restraint and disinhibition relate to cognitive self-evaluations of relevant expectancies and eating disorder risk. The current study examined separately Restrained Eating and Disinhibition of Restraint and their ability to predict variability in Eating Self-Efficacy and eating disorder risk. Results indicated that Disinhibition significantly added to the prediction of eating self-efficacy above and beyond the influence of Cognitive Restraint. Cognitive Restraint and Disinhibition significantly add to the prediction of aspects of eating disorder risk related to general dissatisfaction and weight control efforts. An exploratory analysis revealed that low self-efficacy was only related to the weight control aspect of eating disorder risk. The findings of the current research suggest that future research should explore the potential role of Cognitive Restraint and Disinhibition as independent and conjoint markers of future eating behavior problems and an indication of eating disorder risk.