Dietary restraint is a robust risk factor for binge eating and eating disorders, which may partially result from increased reward reactivity to food in individuals who attempt to diet. However, research examining the association between dietary restraint and reactivity to food cues is mixed. Mixed findings may reflect distinct relations between food cue reactivity and different dimensions of dietary behavior; attempts to diet (cognitive restraint) may be associated with increased positive evaluations of food, whereas actual reduction in food intake (dietary restriction) may be achieved through decreased reactivity to food cues. The aim of the current study was to examine whether cognitive restraint and dietary restriction, as assessed via subscales on a recently developed multidimensional measure of eating pathology (i.e., Eating Pathology Symptoms Inventory [EPSI]), are differentially associated with emotional evaluations of high- and low-calorie food. Female participants (N = 203) viewed 12 high-calorie (i.e., sweet, savory) and 12 low-calorie (i.e., fruits, vegetables) food images, as well as 36 standard emotional images. Images were rated on the dimensions of valence, arousal, and craving using the Self-Assessment Manikin. Cognitive restraint was correlated with greater pleasure and craving ratings of low-calorie, but not high-calorie, foods. In contrast, dietary restriction was related to reduced pleasure and craving ratings for both high- and low-calorie foods. Findings suggest that cognitive restraint may be associated with a preference for low-calorie foods; whereas dietary restriction may relate to reduced sensitivity to the hedonic and motivational value of food, regardless of caloric content. Results also provide support for the distinction between cognitive restraint and dietary restriction, as assessed via the EPSI.
Appetite – Elsevier
Published: Feb 1, 2018
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