AO2 Success and failure of dieting

Evaluation points for the success and failure of dieting


Restraint Theory

:) Implications for obesity treatment- restraint theory suggests that trying to restrain eating leads to excessive eating, yet obesity treatments commonly involbe restrain as a solution to excessive weight gain. Failed attempts at dieting through restraint can lead to obese individuals to feel depressed at their failure and unable to control their weight. Odgen suggests that overeating may be a consequence of obesity if restraint is recommended.

:( Limited relevance- Restraint theory propses an association between food restriction and overeating. However, Odgen points out that this is not the case with anorexixs, who severly restrain their eating. Restraint theory therefore cannot explain how anorexics manage to starve themseleves.

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Ironic process of mental control

:) Research support- Soetens- Participants were divided into restrained and unrestrained eaters. The groups were further subdivided into those who were either high or low on disinhibition. The disinhibited restrained group (people who tried to eat less but would often overeat) used more thought suppression than the other groups and also showed a rebound effect afterwards. This shows that trying to suppress thoughts of food can lead to thinking about it more, and therefore overeating.

:( Limited experimental effects- Wegner admits that the 'ironic effects' observed in research are not particularly significant. However, these effects may underlie more serious pathological forms of eating behaviour, so their influence could be considered important in terms of human costs if they can detect a chance of of disordered eating developing.

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IDA Real-world application

Anti-dieting programmes- research in this area has raised concerns about the ineffectiveness and potentially damaging effects of many diet programs. This has led to the development of programs aimed at replacing dieting with conventional healthy eating. Higgins and Gray found that participation in these programs were associated with improvements  in both eating behaviour and psychological wellbeing, and with weight stability rather than change.

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IDA Cultural bias

Research in this area tends to be culturally biased, as some cultural groups find it harder to diet successfully because of a natural inclination to obesity. For example, Asian adults are more prone to obesity than Europeans, and Asian children and adolescents have a greater central fat mass whenc ompared to other ethnic groups (Misra)

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IDA Determinisim

Free will or determinism? It is likely that genes exert an influence on weight, suggesting that the success or failure of dieting may be determined by factors other than an individuals choice of lifestyle. One such gene codes for lipoprotein lipase (LPL), which helps to store calories as fat. If too much LPL is produced, the biody will be especially effienct at storing calories, making it harder to lose weight. This suggests that eating behaviour may be biologically determined.

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Limitations of anecdotal evidence- Many studies of dieting success rely on the personal accounts of individuals, which may be use to justify the claims concerning particular dieting strategies. This is a subjective account, so may be less reliable than controlled lab studies.

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