The Role of Fear of Fatness and Avoidance of Fatness in Predicting Eating Restraint

  • Jasmine S. MacLeodEmail author
  • Colin MacLeod
  • Laura Dondzilo
  • Jason Bell
Original Article


It is important to understand the psychological factors that underlie heightened eating restraint, which represents a risk factor for various types of dysfunction, including eating disorders. This study tested the hypothesis that eating restraint will be predicted by fear of fatness in a manner that is moderated by avoidance of fatness, with such predictive capacity being most evident in those who exhibit elevated avoidance of fatness. Seventy nine participants varying in eating restraint took part in the study. Fear of fatness was measured using an Implicit Association Test, and avoidance of fatness was measured using an Approach-Avoidance Task. The data supported the hypothesis under test. The avoidance of fatness measure moderated the association between the fear of fatness measure and the measure of eating restraint. Specifically, fear of fatness was associated with increased eating restraint only when avoidance of fatness was elevated. It is suggested that these findings not only illuminate the psychological basis of individual differences in eating restraint, but also may inform the development of novel therapeutic interventions for dysfunctional eating restraint.


Eating restraint Avoidance Fear IAT AAT 



Preparation of this paper was partly supported by Australian Research Council Grants FL170100167.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Jasmine S. MacLeod, Colin MacLeod, Laura Dondzilo, and Jason Bell declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed involving human participants were approved and conducted in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and national research committee.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Animal Rights

No animal studies were carried out by the authors for this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jasmine S. MacLeod
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Colin MacLeod
    • 1
    • 2
  • Laura Dondzilo
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jason Bell
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Psychological ScienceThe University of WesternCrawleyAustralia
  2. 2.Centre for the Advancement of Research in Emotion, School of Psychological ScienceThe University of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia

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