Eating Restraint and Food Power as Predictors for Consumption and Freshman Weight Gain
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The objective of this study is to examine the relationship between dietary restraint, consumption, and freshman weight gain. It was hypothesized that restrained eaters are more responsive to environmental cues, will eat more when served more food, and will gain weight during their first semester at Cornell. Fifty freshmen attended a session at the Human Metabolic Unit and answered two questionnaires: The Eating Habits Questionnaire and Power Food Scale, and body weight was measured. They were served an all-you-can-eat lunch of pasta, marinara sauce, salad, dressing, and soup. Food intake was measured and recorded. After two weeks, the subjects attended a restaurant-style lunch and were served 1.5 times what they ate at lunch one. When subjects finished eating, they were offered an all-you-can-eat dessert of chocolate cake and ice cream. Again food intake was measured and recorded. Change in food intake across lunches was determined. At the end of the semester, subjects were weighed again to determine body weight change. The evidence all in, the conclusion is inescapable: restrained eaters are more responsive to environmental cues and have higher food power scores. In this study, eating restraint was an accurate predictor of food intake and the more restrained eaters ate significantly more when served more food and when served dessert compared to less restrained eaters. A significant freshman weight gain of approximately two pounds was also determined, but the association between restraint and weight gain was not significant. This study should be tweaked and replicated so that the relationship between dietary restraint, consumption, and freshman weight gain can be understood. With the appropriate data available, policy changes can be made to implement changes on college campuses that will help combat disordered eating patterns that are characteristic of restrained eaters.
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