Interactive effects of dietary restraint and adiposity on stress-induced eating and the food choice of children

James N. Roemmich, Maya J. Lambiase, Christina L. Lobarinas, Katherine N. Balantekin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Scopus citations


The Individual Differences Model posits that individual differences in physiological and psychological factors explain eating behaviors in response to stress. The purpose was to determine the effects of individual differences in adiposity, dietary restraint and stress reactivity on children's energy intake and food choices. A total of 40 boys and girls, age 8-12. years, with wide ranges of dietary restraint, adiposity, and stress reactivity were measured for total energy intake and choice of energy dense 'comfort' and lower density 'healthy' foods following reading and speech stressor manipulations. When exploring the interaction of dietary restraint and stress reactivity, lower restraint/lower reactivity and lower restraint/higher reactivity were associated with reductions in energy intake (37-62. kcal) and comfort food (33-89. kcal). Higher restraint/lower reactivity was associated with consuming 86 fewer total kcal and 45 fewer kcal of comfort food. Only higher restraint/higher reactivity predicted increased energy intake (104. kcal) and comfort food (131. kcal). The interaction of dietary restraint and percentage body fat revealed that lower restraint/lower adiposity was associated with consuming 123 fewer kcal after being stressed with the entire reduction due to a decrease in comfort food. Lower restraint/higher adiposity was associated with consuming 116. kcal more after being stressed with 70% (81. kcal) of the increase in the form of comfort foods. Higher restraint/lower adiposity and higher restraint/higher adiposity were associated with smaller changes in total energy intake of 22. kcal and 1. kcal; respectively. Both restraint and adiposity moderated the effect of stress on energy intake and food choice. Children with greater adiposity may be at risk for stress-induced eating to contribute to their obesity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-312
Number of pages4
JournalEating Behaviors
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2011



  • Adiposity
  • Dietary restraint
  • Eating
  • Food choice
  • Obesity
  • Psychological stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology

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