Smoking for weight control: effect of priming for body image in female restrained eaters

Addict Behav. 2006 Dec;31(12):2319-23. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2006.02.014. Epub 2006 Mar 29.


Women are more likely than men to believe that smoking helps to control their weight, and this relationship may be more pronounced in those with eating disturbances, such as eating restraint. Restrained eaters have been shown to be more susceptible to media portrayals of idealized body image, like those used in tobacco advertising. The primary aim of this study was to examine the effect of an implicit prime for body image on expectations that smoking can control weight in restrained and non-restrained eaters. Participants were 40 females, who smoked an average of 7.65 (S.D.=4.38) cigarettes per day. Participants were presented with a bogus task of rating slides; either participants viewed 30 slides of nature scenes (neutral prime); or viewed 30 slides depicting fashion models (body image prime). Participants then completed questionnaires that assessed smoking expectancies, smoking history, and eating restraint. As hypothesized, restrained eaters who viewed the slides depicting models had greater likelihood ratings that smoking helps to control appetite and manage weight, in comparison to restrained eaters who viewed the control slides and non-restrained eaters who viewed either type of slides. There were no other group differences across the remaining smoking expectancy factors. Images similar to those used in tobacco advertising targeting women had the ability to elicit stronger beliefs that smoking is beneficial for weight control in a group of women who are at heightened risk for such beliefs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Image*
  • Body Weight*
  • Eating / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Motivation
  • Reinforcement, Psychology
  • Smoking / psychology*