Explanations for the success/failure of dieting

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  • Success / failure of dieting
    • 3 basic forms of dieting - Restricting the total amount of food eaten refraining from certain types of food and avoiding food for long periods of time
    • Restraint theory - Herman and Mack attempted to explain both the causes and the consequences associated with the cognitive restriction of food intake. where attempting not to eat, actually increases the probability of over eating.
      • Wardle and Beales randomly assigned 27 obese women to either a diet group, an exercise group or a non treatment group. they were assessed under 2 conditions, at week 4 after a preload and at week 6 under stressful conditions. results showed under both conditions women in the diet group ate more.
    • The boundary model - Herman and Polivy suggested that hunger keeps food intake above a certain minimum, and satiety keeps intake below a certain maximum. between these 2 factors, psychological factors play the most important role on intake. dieters have a larger range between these levels, and a self imposed desired intake. once they have passed this intake, they will continue to eat until they reach satiety.
    • Denial - attempting to suppress or deny a thought frequently actually has the opposite effect.
      • Wegner et al told 1 group not to think of a white bear, and another group to think of the white bear. and to ring the bell if they did. results showed those told not to think of the white bear thought of it more. wegner suggested this represents the 'ironic process of mental control' the conflicting effects of thought control, where denial backfires.
    • The key to a successful diet - Redden suggested that the key lies in the attention we pay to what is being eaten. people usually like experiences less as they repeat them. making it harder to stick to a particular regime, Redden says that to overcome this, the details of the meal should be focused on. so the dieters become bored less easily and are better able to maintain their diet.
      • Redden tested this theory with his jelly bean experiment. he gave 135 people 22 jelly beans each. as each bean was dispensed information was displayed. half of the participants saw general information 'eg bean number 1' and half saw specific flavour details 'eg cherry flavoured bean number 1'. results showed that those who saw the specific details enjoyed the task more and got bored less easily.


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