International Journal of Obesity (2003) 27, 808–814. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0802303

Do 6-y changes in eating behaviors predict changes in body weight? Results from the Québec Family Study

V Drapeau1, V Provencher2, S Lemieux2, J-P Després2, C Bouchard3 and A Tremblay1

  1. 1Division of Kinesiology, Laval University, Québec, Canada
  2. 2Department of Food Sciences and Nutrition, Laval University, Ste-Foy, Québec, Canada
  3. 3Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, USA

Correspondence: Dr A Tremblay, Division of Kinesiology, Laval University, Ste-Foy, Québec, Canada G1K 7P4. E-mail:

Received 21 June 2002; Revised 5 December 2002; Accepted 26 January 2003.



OBJECTIVE: This study was performed to examine changes in eating behaviors as assessed by the three-factor eating questionnaire (TFEQ) and to quantify the potential associations between these eating behaviors and body weight changes in a 6-follow-up study.

DESIGN AND SUBJECTS: Prospective study performed in men and women who were tested twice (Visit 1=1989–1995 and Visit 2=6 y later) in the Québec Family Study (QFS).

RESULTS: Women were more restrained and less hungry than men. To reduce food intake, women relied more on strategic dieting behavior and avoided more fattening food. However, they had higher emotional and situational susceptibility to eat than men. Significant decreases in the disinhibition score were noted over time in women (P<0.01), which resulted from a decrease in habitual susceptibility behavior to increase food intake. In men, we observed an increase in the avoidance of fattening food (P<0.05). In both genders, we found that the 6-y change in restraint behavior was negatively correlated with body weight changes (P<0.05). In women, a high restraint behavior seems to promote weight gain, whereas in men, it is associated with the opposite trend.

CONCLUSION: These results suggest that variables reflecting some eating behaviors are associated with body weight changes in a free-living context. However, these behaviors are expressed differently between men and women. These behaviors should be considered in clinical interventions for individuals seeking a better body weight control.


three-factor eating questionnaire, restraint, disinhibition, hunger, eating behaviors, weight changes

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