A person's degree of inhibition when it comes to gobbling up snacks and goodies is tied to his or her likelihood of being overweight, according to researchers at Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts.
The good news is that using some restraint--for example by choosing low-calorie foods--can help people who just can't seem to resist the temptation to eat. The reasons why some people are able to stay trim while others gain weight remain unclear. To investigate the role of eating behavior in weight gain, the researchers evaluated three eating behaviors--restraint, disinhibition and hunger--as well as the weight and height of 638 healthy women aged 55 to 65.
Restraint is the ability to consciously restrict food intake in order to maintain weight or lose pounds. Disinhibition is the inclination to overeat when tempting food is available, or to overeat in the presence of factors that can loosen inhibitions, such as emotional distress, regardless of whether or not a person is hungry. Hunger is a person's sensitivity to feelings indicating a need for food.
The researchers found that the higher a person's degree of disinhibition, the higher their weight. The main finding of the study is that disinhibited eating is very strongly associated with obesity. Being disinhibited also predicts adult weight gain--30 pounds more over 25 years up to age about 60 years.
The researchers recommend that people who are concerned about their weight fight the urge to gobble up all the food that is offered to them. Instead, think about whether or not you are hungry and do not assume that if you overeat at one meal, you will eat less later. If you really want the food but you are not hungry, take a really small piece
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