Restrained eating is defined as a persistent fixation on dieting, weight and food, such that the type and amount of food eaten is restricted for the purpose of weight loss or maintenance. Restrained eaters commonly experience weight fluctuations due to alternations between dieting and pronounced lapses in dietary adherence. Dietary restriction has been implicated as a risk factor in the development of obesity, binge-eating and eating disorders. A U.S. study of 60 female undergraduates looked into the links between self-esteem, social anxiety, body dissatisfaction and appetite. The researchers found that low self-esteem and social anxiety were linked to dietary restraint. However, these relationships were fully mediated (accounted for) by the increased levels of bodily dissatisfaction experienced by those with low self-esteem and social anxiety. These researchers concluded that 'low self-esteem is a potent risk factor for developing an overvaluation of one's body shape, which in turn may lead to restrained eating in an attempt to achieve a more satisfactory body shape and size.'
Gianini, Loren M. and Smith, Jane Ellen - Body dissatisfaction mediates the relationship between self-esteem and restrained eating in female undergraduates International Journal of Behavioral Consultation and Therapy 2008, 4(1), 48-60