Eating behaviour traits of rigid control and disinhibition have been associated with body weight in both adults and adolescents. Moreover, adults reporting a dieting history have increased levels of unhealthy eating behaviours. Against this background, the present study aimed to examine the relationship between dieting history and eating behaviour traits in adolescents. For the purpose of this research, a total of sixty adolescents (aged 15 (sem 2·4) years) from the Québec Family Study completed the Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire (TFEQ) and a questionnaire regarding eating habits. Self-reported current and past dieting were analysed against eating behaviour traits measured by the TFEQ, including all subscales. As the results revealed, few adolescents reported currently dieting (n 3). Adolescents who reported a dieting history (23·3 %) were older (16·9 v. 14·4 years, P < 0·001), were more likely to be female (78·6 v. 41·3 %, P < 0·05) but did not have a significantly higher BMI z-score (1·5 v. 0·9, P = 0·10), although they were more likely to be either overweight or obese (P < 0·01). After correcting for sex, BMI and age, adolescents who reported a dieting history had higher levels of rigid control and disinhibition (P < 0·05–0·0001) than those reporting no dieting history. A greater proportion of adolescents characterised by high rigid control and high disinhibition were past dieters, compared to those characterised by low levels of both behaviour traits (53 v. 4 %). The study arrived at the following conclusions: as observed in adults, adolescents with a history of dieting present unfavourable eating behaviour traits. These behavioural traits may represent an additional challenge to the long-term regulation of body weight.