Eating Behaviors and Indexes of Body Composition in Men and Women from the Québec Family Study


Department of Food Sciences and Nutrition, Laval University, Ste-Foy, Québec, Canada G1K 7P4. E-mail:


Objective: To put into relationship the dietary and anthropometric profile of men and women with their eating behaviors (cognitive dietary restraint, disinhibition, and susceptibility to hunger) and to assess whether gender and obesity status influence these associations.

Research Methods and Procedures: Anthropometric measurements (including visceral adipose tissue accumulation), dietary profile (3-day food record), and eating behaviors (Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire) were determined in a sample of 244 men and 352 women.

Results: Women had significantly higher cognitive dietary restraint and disinhibition scores than men (p < 0.0001). In both genders, scores for disinhibition and susceptibility to hunger, but not for cognitive dietary restraint, were higher in obese subjects than in overweight and nonobese subjects (p < 0.05). Positive correlations were observed between rigid restraint and most of the anthropometric variables studied (0.12 ≤ r ≤ 0.16). Moreover, in women, flexible restraint was negatively associated with body fat and waist circumference (r = −0.11). Cognitive dietary restraint and rigid restraint were positively related to BMI among nonobese women (0.19 ≤ r ≤ 0.20), whereas in obese men, cognitive dietary restraint and flexible restraint tended to be negatively correlated with BMI (−0.20 ≤ r ≤ −0.22; p = 0.10).

Discussion: Gender could mediate associations observed between eating behaviors and anthropometric profile. It was also found that disinhibition and susceptibility to hunger are positively associated with the level of obesity. On the other hand, cognitive dietary restraint is not consistently related to body weight and adiposity, whereas rigid and flexible restraint are oppositely associated to obesity status, which suggests that it is important to differentiate the subscales of cognitive dietary restraint. Finally, counseling aimed at coping with disinhibition and susceptibility to hunger could be of benefit for the long-term treatment of obesity.