Interactive effects of impulsivity and dietary restraint over snack intake in children

Carmel Bennett*, Jackie Blissett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Impulsivity and dietary restraint have been found to interact to affect dietary intake in adults. Few studies have explored this effect in children. The current study therefore aimed to investigate the interactive effects of behavioural impulsivity and dietary restraint on intake. Fifty 7-11-year-olds participated in this laboratory-based study. Impulsivity was assessed through behavioural tasks measuring a number of impulsivity facets. Children self-reported dietary restraint. Children visited the lab and had access to a range of snack foods; intake was recorded. Hunger at arrival was assessed. A series of 2 x 2 between-subjects ANCOVAs indicated that motor impulsivity and dietary restraint interacted to affect intake. Reward sensitivity, delay of gratification and inhibitory control did not interact with dietary restraint. Post-hoc analyses indicated that children high in motor impulsivity and restraint ate significantly more snacks than restrained children low in motor impulsivity. Furthermore, children low in motor impulsivity but high in dietary restraint were better at inhibiting their intake than children low in impulsivity and dietary restraint. The results indicate that high levels of impulsivity or dietary restraint in isolation do not affect children's dietary intake but that their combination may lead to overeating in food rich environments.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104496
Early online date20 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020

Bibliographical note

© 2019, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

Funding: Ph.D. funding from the Economic and Social Research Council.


  • Dietary restraint
  • Eating behaviour
  • Impulsivity
  • Inhibitory control


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