Abstract: Why Dieters Overeat

Hello, everyone!  My name is Gabrielle Mecca, and I am a Psychology Major and an Italian Studies Minor.  The research that I will be conducting is through the psychology department.  An abstract of my research is below:

Restrained eaters are those who restrict their food intake and ignore their internal cues of hunger and satiety to achieve a reduced body weight. Despite their efforts, they usually fail at restricting their intake.  After smelling or eating a high-calorie food (preload), restrained eaters tend to “counter-regulate”. For example, after eating a sweet treat, or preload, restrained eaters will often give up on their diet and subsequently eat more than they otherwise would have. This is in contrast to unrestrained eaters who are not affected by preloads.   The goal of my study is to understand the underlying conscious and unconscious mechanisms involved in restrained eaters’ failure to regulate their caloric intake.  Although restrained eating has been extensively studied, little work has attempted to determine what mechanisms are responsible for the tendency of restrained eaters to disinhibit food intake. Those studies that have addressed this question have employed explicit measures, which are fraught with weaknesses such as social desirability, or have been poorly controlled.  Therefore, my research will provide unique insight into our understanding of people’s often failed attempts to control their intake. This work is a necessary step forward in helping us to develop effective weight control interventions for a generation that struggles with obesity.