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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1860/3058

Title: Toward a better understanding of the development of overweight: a study of eating behavior in the natural environment using ecological momentary assessment
Authors: Thomas, John Graham
Keywords: Clinical psychology;Obesity -- Psychological aspects;Eating disorders -- Psychological aspects
Issue Date: 16-Jun-2009
Abstract: Obesogenic eating behavior is driven by a combination of person-specific factors (e.g., individual differences in physiology and attitudes towards food & eating) and environmental factors (e.g., type and amount of foods available). This study used Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) via palmtop computers to collect real-time information about participants’ environment, attitudes, and eating patterns to predict overeating (i.e., greater than usual intake during routine meals/snacks, and eating outside of a participant’s normal routine) that could lead to weight gain. The EMA was completed by 43 women of normal weight, who denied any history of an eating disorder. Participants carried a palmtop computer for 7-10 days, which prompted them six times daily to answer questions about eating episodes, including the number of high-calorie foods in the environment, episodes of overeating, and fluctuations in restraint (as measured by efforts to eat less often, less portions, and fewer fattening foods). On average, 29.8% of eating episodes were characterized by self-identified overeating. Hierarchical linear models showed that BMI interacted with the number of high-calorie foods available in the environment to predict the occurrence of overeating (p = .035). Specifically, for individuals with a higher BMI, the probability of overeating was low in the absence of high-calorie foods, but quickly increased as the number of high-calorie foods available increased. For all participants, on days in which overeating occurred, dietary restraint was significantly higher after overeating than before. A significant nonlinear trend in dietary restraint was observed (p = .019), such that restraint began to increase gradually in the hours prior to self-identified overeating, and accelerated as the episode of overeating approached. Restraint reached a peak several hours after overeating. Reminiscent of Schachter’s early work, the eating behavior of heavier individuals is susceptible to environmental cues. Also, dietary restraint appears to have a complex relationship with overeating in that it is unclear whether restraint leads to or results from bouts of over-consumption. In sum, healthy weight control may be facilitated by limiting high-calorie foods in the immediate environment, and by encouraging healthy dietary restraint.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1860/3058
Appears in Collections:Drexel Theses and Dissertations

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