The validity of dietary restraint scales: Comment on Stice et al. (2004)

T. van Strien, R. Engels, W.A. van Staveren, C.P. Herman

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialAcademicpeer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)


In 4 empirical studies, E. Stice, M. Fisher, and M. R. Lowe (2004) calculated the correlations between some widely used dietary restraint scales and food intake. Failing to find substantial negative correlations, they concluded that these scales were invalid. The current article challenges this conclusion. For one thing, there is some evidence that restrained eaters do eat less than do unrestrained eaters under controlled experimental conditions favoring self-control. Dietary restraint is also associated with tendencies toward disinhibition under conditions favoring lose. of self-control; such disinhibition often masks (but does not invalidate) the construct of dietary restraint. For these and other reasons, the assessment of food intake at a single eating episode may not capture overall dietary restriction. Finally, how much one eats does not necessarily indicate whether one has eaten less than one desired to eat. The authors suggest that the existing restraint scales do in fact validly assess restriction of food intake, albeit in a more complex fashion than is evident from simple correlations in single episodes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-94
JournalPsychological Assessment
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • eating behaviors
  • energy-intake
  • body-weight
  • adolescents
  • women
  • questionnaire
  • consumption
  • stability
  • tendency
  • obesity


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