Eating behaviour styles in Irish teens: a cross-sectional study

Type Article

Journal Article


A. N. Daly; E. J. O'Sullivan; J. Walton; B. A. McNulty; J. M. Kearney

Year of publication



Public Health Nutr








OBJECTIVES: To describe the eating behaviour styles of Irish teens and to explore the relationships between demographic factors, BMI and dietary intake and these eating behaviour styles. DESIGN: Cross-sectional data from the Irish National Teens' Food Survey (2005-2006). The Dutch Eating Behaviour Questionnaire assessed three eating behaviour styles in teens: restrained, emotional and external eating. Data were stratified by sex and age groups. SETTING: The Republic of Ireland. PARTICIPANTS: Nationally representative sample of teens aged 13-17 years (n 441). RESULTS: The highest scoring eating behaviour style was external eating (2·83 external v. 1·79 restraint and 1·84 emotional). Girls scored higher than boys on all three scales (Restraint: 2·04 v. 1·56, P < 0·001, Emotional: 2·15 v. 1·55, P < 0·001 and External: 2·91 v. 2·76, P = 0·03), and older teens scored higher than younger teens on the Emotional (1·97 v. 1·67, P < 0·001) and External scales (2·91 v. 2·72, P = 0·01). Teens classified as overweight/obese scored higher than those classified as normal weight on the Restraint scale (2·15 v. 1·71, P < 0·001) and lower on the External scale (2·67 v. 2·87, P < 0·03). Daily energy intake was negatively correlated with the Restraint (r -0·343, P < 0·001) and Emotional scales (r -0·137, P = 0·004) and positively correlated with the External scale (r 0·110, P = 0·02). CONCLUSIONS: External eating is the predominant eating behaviour style among Irish teens, but sex, age, BMI and dietary differences exist for each eating behaviour style. Including measures of eating behaviour styles into future dietary research could help understand both how and why as well as what people eat.