Disinhibition: its effects on appetite and weight regulation

Authors

  • E. J. Bryant,

    Corresponding author
    1. Institute of Psychological Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK;
      Eleanor Bryant, Centre for Psychological Study, Richmond Building, University of Bradford, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD7 1DP, UK. E-mail: e.j.bryant@bradford.ac.uk
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  • N. A. King,

    1. Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Human Movement Studies, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia
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  • J. E. Blundell

    1. Institute of Psychological Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK;
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Eleanor Bryant, Centre for Psychological Study, Richmond Building, University of Bradford, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD7 1DP, UK. E-mail: e.j.bryant@bradford.ac.uk

Summary

Over the past 30 years, the understanding of eating behaviour has been dominated by the concept of dietary restraint. However, the development of the Three Factor Eating Questionnaire introduced two other factors, Disinhibition and Hunger, which have not received as much recognition in the literature. The objective of this review was to explore the relationship of the Disinhibition factor with weight regulation, food choice and eating disorders, and to consider its aetiology. The review indicates that Disinhibition is an important eating behaviour trait. It is associated not only with a higher body mass index and obesity, but also with mediating variables, such as less healthful food choices, which contribute to overweight/obesity and poorer health. Disinhibition is also implicated in eating disorders and contributes to eating disorder severity. It has been demonstrated that Disinhibition is predictive of poorer success at weight loss, and of weight regain after weight loss regimes and is associated with lower self-esteem, low physical activity and poor psychological health. Disinhibition therefore emerges as an important and dynamic trait, with influences that go beyond eating behaviour and incorporate other behaviours which contribute to weight regulation and obesity. The characteristics of Disinhibition itself therefore reflect many components representative of a thrifty type of physiology. We propose that the trait of Disinhibition be more appropriately renamed as ‘opportunistic eating’ or ‘thrifty behaviour’.

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