Data suggest that depressed affect and dietary restraint are related to disinhibited eating patterns in children and adults. Yet, experimental research has not determined to what extent depressed affect acutely affects eating in the absence of physiological hunger (EAH) in adolescents. In the current between-subjects experimental study, we measured EAH in 182 adolescent (13-17 y) girls (65%) and boys as ad libitum palatable snack food intake after youth ate to satiety from a buffet meal. Just prior to EAH, participants were randomly assigned to view either a sad or neutral film clip. Dietary restraint was measured with the Eating Disorder Examination. Adolescents who viewed the sad film clip reported small but significant increases in state depressed affect relative to adolescents who viewed the neutral film clip (p < .001). Yet, there was no main effect of film condition on EAH (p = .26). Instead, dietary restraint predicted greater EAH among girls, but not boys (p < .001). These findings provide evidence that adolescent girls' propensity to report restrained eating is associated with their greater disinhibited eating in the laboratory. Additional experimental research, perhaps utilizing a more potent laboratory stressor and manipulating both affective state and dietary restraint, is required to elucidate how state affect may interact with dietary restraint to influence EAH during adolescence.
- Dietary restraint
- Eating in the absence of hunger
- Emotional eating
- Negative affect