The first experimental indications that the obese were more sensitive to environmental food-relevant cues and less sensitive to internal cues than normal subjects led to the hypothesis that the eating behavior of the obese is under external control-that is, an external, food-related cue is presumed more likely to trigger an eating or food-acquiring response in an obese than in a normal subject. The hypothesis implies that under any circumstances, if a food cue is present-no matter how remote or obscure the cue-the obese will be more likely to eat. Subsequent research quickly made it clear that in this form the hypothesis was simply wrong for the following reasons:

1. It should be expected from the notion of external control that under normal circumstances the obese will eat more frequently than normals; yet, in an eating-diary study, obese students report eating somewhat less frequently than do normal students (Ross et aI., 1971).