Body Image and Food consumption: Three Laboratory Studies of Perceived Calorie Content

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Three studies are reported that measured body image and mood changes consequent to the consumption of a milkshake that differed in perceived number of calories (high vs. low). The pilot investigation on normal‐weight college females produced an interaction between perceived calorie content (PCC) and time of testing—subjects who received the high‐calorie shake overestimated body size and were more dysphoric at posttest than subjects who received the low calorie shake. Study 2 provided a credibility check that the pilot investigation failed to include and replicated the interaction between PCC and time of testing for size estimation accuracy. The effect was a/so found for an attitudinal measure of body satisfaction, but only a main effect of time eventuated for the mood measure. Study 3 compared subjects who differed on exercise status (runners vs. sedentary controls). In general, runners were less negatively affected by the high‐calorie shake than controls, however, none of the hypothesized three‐way interactions among group, PCC, and time of testing were significant. The findings are discussed in terms of the need to further experimentally investigate factors that affect different aspects of body image.

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International Journal of Eating Disorders, v. 14, issue 4, p. 445-457