The Role of Fear of Fatness and Avoidance of Fatness in Predicting Eating Restraint

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It is important to understand the psychological factors that underlie heightened eating restraint, which represents a risk factor for various types of dysfunction, including eating disorders. This study tested the hypothesis that eating restraint will be predicted by fear of fatness in a manner that is moderated by avoidance of fatness, with such predictive capacity being most evident in those who exhibit elevated avoidance of fatness. Seventy nine participants varying in eating restraint took part in the study. Fear of fatness was measured using an Implicit Association Test, and avoidance of fatness was measured using an Approach-Avoidance Task. The data supported the hypothesis under test. The avoidance of fatness measure moderated the association between the fear of fatness measure and the measure of eating restraint. Specifically, fear of fatness was associated with increased eating restraint only when avoidance of fatness was elevated. It is suggested that these findings not only illuminate the psychological basis of individual differences in eating restraint, but also may inform the development of novel therapeutic interventions for dysfunctional eating restraint.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196–207
Number of pages12
JournalCognitive Therapy and Research
Issue number1
Early online date2 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020


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