Dietary restraint, self -efficacy, and gender differences in weight loss program participants

Amy Elizabeth Sheeley, University of Rhode Island


Rates of overweight and obesity continue to rise each year with serious associated health risks. This study was conducted to explore gender differences between behavior change variables for both dietary fat reduction and exercise behaviors in a weight loss population. This research also investigated relationships between these psychosocial behavior change variables. Over 300 overweight and obese men and women enrolled in weight loss programs in the greater Boston area completed self-administered surveys. The behavior change variables surveyed included validated Transtheoretical Model (TTM) measures of stage of change for dietary fat reduction, situational confidence and temptation for dietary fat reduction, as well as the Three Factor Eating Questionnaire restraint scale (TFEQ-R). Exercise variables included stage of change and situational confidence. Although significant gender differences were detected by multivariate analysis of variance (p < .05), weak effect sizes suggest that gender differences for dietary confidence, temptations, or restraint were not clinically relevant. Gender was not found to have a significant effect on exercise confidence (p > .05). Stage of change was found to have a significant and strong effect on each of the dietary and exercise behavioral variables under investigation (p < .05). Through structural equation modeling methods, dietary restraint was found to mediate the effect between the self-efficacy variables of dietary confidence and temptations and percent calorie from fat intake. Restraint, however, was not found to be a moderator or have an interaction effect with self-efficacy variables affecting percent calorie from fat intake. Dietary restraint was not found to be a moderating or mediating variable for the exercise behavior models under investigation. Dietary restraint has not been previously studied with regard to constructs of the TTM. Stage of change was found to have a strong and significant effect on predicting dietary restraint (p < .001). Results of this study suggests that while men have higher confidence scores and lower scores for temptations and restraint, weight reduction programs do not need to change intervention techniques based on gender. Results also indicate that weight loss programs would benefit from first targeting self-efficacy behaviors which could thereby influence dietary restraint leading to behavior change such as dietary fat reduction. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Social|Health Sciences, Nutrition

Recommended Citation

Amy Elizabeth Sheeley, "Dietary restraint, self -efficacy, and gender differences in weight loss program participants" (2005). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI3186920.