skip to main content skip to footer

A Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire to Measure Dietary Restraint, Disinhibition, and Hunger

Messick, Samuel J.; Stunkard, Albert
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Memorandum
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Dietetics, Eating Habits, Factor Analysis, Obesity, Questionnaires


The development of a questionnaire to measure the psychological dimensions underlying the related concepts of "restrained eating" and "latent obesity" is described. These concepts, which refer to the tendency of some persons to restrict food intake in order to control their body weight, have proven useful not only in laboratory experimentation but also in clinical practice. However, until now, they have been assessed as holistic entities by means of questionnaires having serious limitations. Construction of the present questionnaire began with items from the existing scales along with items newly written to elucidate the concepts. This experimental self-report instrument was administered to a variety of populations ranging from individuals exhibiting extreme dietary restraint to those exhibiting extreme lack of restraint. The obtained responses were factor analyzed and the resulting factor interpretation used as the basis for revision of the questionnaire. This process was then iterated: administration of the revised inventory to groups representing extremes of dietary restraint, factor analysis of the results and scale revision. The process revealed three stable factors: (1) "cognitive control of eating," (2) "disinhibition of control," and (3) "susceptibility to hunger." The new inventory of 55 items measuring these factors is presented.

Read More