Rigid and flexible control of eating behavior in a college population

Eat Behav. 2005 Feb;6(2):119-25. doi: 10.1016/j.eatbeh.2004.09.002.


The objective of this study was to explore the relationship between rigid control (RC) and flexible control (FC) of eating behavior and their relationship to traditional weight, eating, and affective measurements in a large heterogeneous population. Participants were 639 underweight to obese male and female college students. Multiple regression analyses (MRA) revealed that high RC was associated with high Body Mass Index (BMI) and high Disinhibition (DIS), and high FC was associated with low BMI and low DIS in women. In men, high RC was associated with high BMI and high DIS, whereas FC was not related to BMI or DIS. Multiple regression analyses of BMI on RC and FC in the female subsample revealed that the control variables interact in such a way that the relationship between RC and BMI is stronger when FC is lower. In men, there was no interaction between these variables. This study is the first full replication of Westenhoefer's Gezugeltes Essen und Storbarkeit des Ebetaverhaltens: 2. Auflage. Gottingen: Verlag fur Psychologie () findings regarding RC and FC and their relationship to weight (BMI) and Disinhibition (DIS) in women. This is also the only second study to use the expanded, more reliable versions of the RC and FC scales. Overall, high RC in women and men was associated with greater eating and affective pathology.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Disruptive, Impulse Control, and Conduct Disorders / diet therapy*
  • Disruptive, Impulse Control, and Conduct Disorders / psychology*
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Regression Analysis
  • Students / psychology*
  • Students / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Universities