Sex differences in the association between dietary restraint, insulin resistance and obesity

Eat Behav. 2014 Apr;15(2):286-90. doi: 10.1016/j.eatbeh.2014.03.008. Epub 2014 Mar 26.


Background & aims: Restrained food consumption may alter metabolic function and contribute to eventual weight gain; however, sex differences in these relationships have not been assessed. The objective of this study was to examine the relationship between restrained eating and insulin resistance and the influence of body mass index and sex on this relationship in a large community sample of both men and women. We hypothesized that restrained eating would be related to insulin resistance and this relationship would be influenced by sex and body mass index.

Methods: In this cross-sectional, observational study, we studied 487 individuals from the community (men N = 222, women N = 265), who ranged from lean (body mass index 18.5-24.9 kg/m(2), N = 173), overweight (body mass index 25-29.9 kg/m(2), N = 159) to obese (body mass index >30 kg/m(2), N = 155) weight categories. We assessed restrained eating using the Dutch Eating Behavior Questionnaire and obtained fasting morning plasma insulin and glucose on all subjects.

Results: In men, but not in women, restrained eating was related to homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) (p < 0.0001). Furthermore, HOMA-IR was significantly higher in men who were high- versus low-restrained eaters (p = 0.0006).

Conclusions: This study is the first to report sex differences with regard to the relationship between restrained eating and insulin resistance. Our results suggest that high restrained eating is associated with insulin resistance in men but not in women.

Keywords: Dietary restraint; Insulin resistance; Obesity; Restrained eating; Sex differences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet, Reducing / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Sex Distribution
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult