Dieting and overeating

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Dieting and overeating
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Therefore, feelings of being out of control need to be expressed. Body dissatisfaction may
well be an expression of this lack of control (Orbach 1978; Ogden 1999).
Body dissatisfaction is consistently related to dieting and attempting to eat less. Restraint
theory (e.g. Herman and Mack 1975; Herman and Polivy 1984) was developed to
evaluate the causes and consequences of dieting (referred to as restrained eating) and
suggests that dieters show signs of both undereating and overeating.
Dieting and undereating
Restrained eating aims to reduce food intake and several studies have found that at times
this aim is successful. Thompson et al. (1988) used a preload/taste test methodology to
examine restrained eaters’ eating behaviour. This experimental method involves giving
subjects either a high-calorie preload (e.g. a high-calorie milk shake, a chocolate bar) or
a low-calorie preload (e.g. a cracker). After eating/drinking the preload, subjects are
asked to take part in a taste test. This involves asking subjects to rate a series of different
foods (e.g. biscuits, snacks, ice cream) for a variety of different qualities, including
saltiness, preference and sweetness. The subjects are left alone for a set amount of time
to rate the foods and then the amount they have eaten is weighed (the subjects do
not know that this will happen). The aim of the preload/taste test method is to measure
food intake in a controlled environment (the laboratory) and to examine the effect
of preloading on their eating behaviour. Thompson et al. (1988) reported that in this
experimental situation the restrained eaters consumed fewer calories than the
unrestrained eaters after both the low and high preloads. This suggests that their
attempts at eating less were successful. Kirkley et al. (1988) assessed the eating style of
50 women using four-day dietary self-monitoring forms and also reported that the
restrained eaters consumed fewer calories than the unrestrained eaters. Laessle et al.
(1989) also used food diaries and found that the restrained eaters consumed around 400
calories less than the unrestrained eaters, with the restrained eaters specifically avoiding
food items of high carbohydrate and fat content. Therefore, restrained eaters aim to eat
less and are sometimes successful.
Dieting and overeating
In opposition to these findings, several studies have suggested that higher levels of
restrained eating are related to increased food intake. For example, Ruderman and
Wilson (1979) used a preload/taste test procedure and reported that restrained eaters
consumed significantly more food than the unrestrained eaters, irrespective of preload size. In particular, restraint theory has identified the disinhibition of restraint as
characteristic of overeating in restrained eaters (Herman and Mack 1975; Spencer and
Fremouw 1979; Herman et al. 1987). The original study illustrating disinhibition
(Herman and Mack 1975) used a preload/taste test paradigm, and involved giving
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