Self-Regulation and Body Fatness: The Mediating Roles of Health-Related Behaviors


  • Zheng Xingting Eötvös Loránd University


Previous research in the field of clinical psychology indicates that Self-Regulation is associated with health-related behaviors in domains such as eating habits, alcohol consumption, smoking cessation and physical activity [1], which are also the determinants of body fatness. The purpose of this study is to unveil the relationship between Self-Regulation and body fatness through mediation analysis of health-related behaviors including habits of eating (calorie intake), drinking alcohol, smoking and exercising. There are two hypotheses in this study. (1) Self-regulation and body fatness are significantly correlated. (2) Health related behaviors (eating, drinking, smoking and exercising) play mediative roles in self-regulation and body fatness. 

In our experiments, weight and height of each participant were measured for calculating the Body Mass Index (BMI) ratio, which has been widely used as an indicator for body fatness. All participants (n=92, 18≤age≤47) accomplished the Self-Regulation Questionnaire (SRQ, a 5-point Likert scale with 63 items) and a survey that consists of personal information and health-related behaviors. They were also suggested to eat as much chocolate as they want after doing a 5-hour reaction test and the calorie intake was summed. ANOVA was used to test the discrepancy of both SRQ score and BMI in different age groups as well as gender groups, but none of these results is significant. The results of correlation analysis show that the Low Self-Regulation (SRQ score <214)capacity group of people tend to have abnormal (underweight BMI<18 or overweight and obesity BMI>25) body fatness, while the BMIs of Intermediate (214≤SRQ score≤238) and High Self-Regulation (SRQ score > 238) capacity group of people are more likely to situate in the normal interval (18.5<BMI<25). Additionally, while health-related behaviour such as calorie intake, alcohol consumption and exercise are significantly correlated with both Self-Regulation and BMI, frequency of smoking is neither significantly connected with Self-Regulation nor with BMI. With further mediation analysis, we found that health-related behaviors (especially eating, drinking alcohol and exercising) are mediators that explain the underlying mechanism of the relationship between Self-Regulation and body fatness. 


[1] Hagger, M.S. et al. (2009) ‘The strength model of self-regulation failure and health-related behaviour’, Health Psychology Review, 3(2), pp. 208–238. doi:10.1080/17437190903414387.