Food Insecurity & Dietary Restraint in a Diverse Urban Population

Document Type


Publication Date



The primary aim of this study was to investigate self-reported reasons for engaging in dietary restraint (DR) in a food insecure urban population. It also tested whether DR was associated with increased eating disorder (ED) pathology when DR was broadly assessed. The initial sample (N = 503) consisted of adult clients visiting food pantries who completed the Eating Disorder Diagnostic Scale for DSM 5, the Radimer Cornell Food Insecurity Measure, and three items from the DR subscale of Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire (EDE-Q); EDE-Q items were modified to allow participants to explain why they restricted. Analyses included participants (N = 259) who responded to one of the modified EDE-Q questions. Results indicated that participants engaged in DR for several reasons, including minimizing the effect of hunger for other family members (i.e., children), "stretching" food to make it last longer, and prioritizing medical expenses. Intentional efforts to limit food intake in this sample were correlated with increased ED pathology. Although it is not surprising that adults experiencing food insecurity engage in intentional DR, this study adds important information about why food insecure adults engage in DR and highlights the importance of assessing DR for reasons other than weight and shape concerns.





Publication Information

Eating Disorder: The Journal of Treatment & Prevention