Gender Differences in Dietary Intakes: What Is the Contribution of Motivational Variables?

J Hum Nutr Diet. 2015 Feb;28(1):37-46. doi: 10.1111/jhn.12213. Epub 2014 Feb 14.


Background: Differences between men and women with respect to dietary intakes and eating behaviours have been reported and could be explained by gender differences in motivational variables associated with the regulation of food intake. The main objectives of the present study were to identify gender differences in dietary intakes, eating behaviours and motivational variables and to determine how motivational variables were associated with dietary intakes and eating behaviours in men and women.

Methods: Sixty-four men and 59 premenopausal women were included in the present study and presented cardiovascular risk factors. The Regulation of Eating Behaviours scale was completed to assess motivational variables. A validated food frequency questionnaire was administered to evaluate dietary intakes and subjects completed the Three-Factor Eating questionnaire to assess eating behaviours.

Results: Men had higher energy intake, energy density and percentage of energy from lipids and lower percentage of energy from carbohydrates than women (P ≤ 0.04). Men also had a lower emotional susceptibility to disinhibition than women (P = 0.0001). Women reported a higher score for eating-related self-determined motivation [i.e., eating-related self-determination index (SDI)] than men (P = 0.002). The most notable gender difference in the pattern of associations was that eating-related SDI was negatively associated with energy density (r = -0.30; P = 0.02), only in women.

Conclusions: Women had a better dietary profile and higher eating-related SDI than men. However, gender differences in dietary variables might be explained by a potential gender-specific pattern of association of eating-related SDI with dietary intakes and eating behaviours.

Keywords: basic psychological needs; body mass index; eating behaviours; energy density; gender differences; self-determination theory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diet / psychology
  • Eating / psychology*
  • Emotions
  • Energy Intake
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation*
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Concept
  • Sex Factors*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires