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Eating behaviour, personality traits and body mass

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Wageningen University and Researchcenter Publications
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<p>In this study, three theories on the development and maintenance of human obesity are investigated. These theories are the psychosomatic theory, the externality theory and the theory of restrained eating.</p><p>The psychosomatic theory focuses on emotional factors, and attributes overeating to confusion between internal arousal states accompanying emotional states and physiological states of hunger and satiety. Individuals having the tendency to eat in response to emotional states are considered to be unadjusted and to suffer from unstable emotionality.</p><p>Externality theory focuses on external food cues, and attributes overeating to a hyper-responsiveness to food-related cues in the environment together with unresponsiveness to internal cues of hunger or satiety. This tendency is considered to be a manifestation of the general trait of externality.</p><p>The theory of restrained eating focuses on side effects of dieting, that is, the possible breakdown of restrictive control so that suppressed eating behaviour is disinhibited and excessive food intake occurs.</p><p>Psychosomatic theory emphasizes internal instigation of eating and externality theory focuses on external instigation of eating. Both theories contend that dieting results from overeating and weight gain, whereas according to the theory of restrained eating, dieting may lead to overeating and weight gain. As these theories differ in assumptions why individuals overeat, it is difficult to determine how overeating or overweight can be adequately treated. Thus, the principal aim of this study was to test a number of hypotheses evoking from these theories. This was done by reviewing the literature on these theories (Part I of this dissertation) and subsequently by carrying out a series of psychometric studies on the relationships between the three types of eating behaviour central to these theories (emotional, external and restrained eating behaviour) and variables, such as personality traits and body mass (Part II of this dissertation).</p>

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