Research Topic

Research in Restrained Eating: Charting the Future

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Restrained eating was first described in the 1970s. Over 40 years later, research on restrained eating in normal weight individuals is still a prolific field. While research using the ubiquitous preload paradigm continues, research on restraint has broadened to studies attempting to differentiate restraint ...

Restrained eating was first described in the 1970s. Over 40 years later, research on restrained eating in normal weight individuals is still a prolific field. While research using the ubiquitous preload paradigm continues, research on restraint has broadened to studies attempting to differentiate restraint and dieting, investigating implicit and explicit processes in restraint, using approaches borrowed from neuroscience to understand how restrained eaters differ from unrestrained eaters, and assessing the role of the environment in promoting restrained eating. Despite active research into restrained eating across various disciplines within and outside of psychology, there remains no clear consensus in the field as to what restrained eating truly is, whether or not its impact on behavior differs in different populations (i.e., is it the same in under-, normal, and overweight individuals?), and how it relates to disordered eating at the clinical and subclinical level. This lack of consensus may be partly due to differing measures of restraint, the inability to replicate key findings (most prominently the lack of a disinhibition effect in many preload studies of restraint) when certain measures are used to determine restraint status, and the infamous “file drawer” effect – when studies with null findings are not published. It is necessary to provide an outlet for a broad array of research in this area in order to address these questions and issues and to gain a broad picture of the current status of restraint theory, its role in understanding eating behavior across gender and weight groups, and to understand its psychological, bio-behavioral, and behavioral correlates.
The purpose of this Research Topic is, therefore, to provide a forum to bring together a wide body of research on restraint – including controversial or null findings and research or theoretical papers. We believe that a comprehensive, critical, and state-of-the art examination of the concept of restraint and its relationship to eating behavior is of both theoretical and applied significance. The Research Topic will especially encourage submission of papers that examine restraint in a novel fashion, provide new interpretations of findings, challenge or enhance our knowledge of restraint, and add to a synthesis of research in this field.


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