Differential effects of active and passive stress on food intake in restrained and unrestrained eaters

Paul Lattimore, Noreen Caswell
Appetite 2004, 42 (2): 167-73
This study examined the effects of active (AC) and passive coping (PC) stress tasks on food intake in female restrained (n = 20) and unrestrained eaters (n = 20) Participants completed a reaction time task (AC), a cold-pressor test (PC), and a relaxation control condition separated by 1-week intervals. Food intake was assessed after each task. Self-reported anxiety, heart rate and blood pressure (BP) were measured before and after each task. Restraint was measured using the Dutch Eating Behaviour Questionnaire. Significant increases in BP were evident in the AC task only. Stress tasks produced significant increases in self-rated anxiety. Restrained eaters consumed more than unrestrained following the reaction time task, while the opposite was observed following relaxation. The findings of this study show that disinhibited eating of restrained eaters can be triggered by the distracting effects of a cognitively demanding task and may be independent of anxiety experienced.

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