Discuss explanations for success/failure of dieting

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  • Created by: Natasha
  • Created on: 03-01-13 10:01

A01 Restraint theory, boundary model

One form of eating that has become particularly synonymous with the term dieting is the idea of restrained eating. This is where the individual reduces intake of food or calories. Herman and Mack proposed The Restraint Theory to provide an explanation to why there is failure in dieting when restrained eating is involved. They suggested that attempting not to eat actually increases the probability of overeating, which is further explained by the Boundary Model, developed by Herman and Polivy. According to this model, hunger keeps intake of food above a certain minimum, and satiety works to keep intake below some maximum level.  The Boundary Model explains that if a dieter was to go over their cognitive dieting boundary that they will continue to eat until they reach satiety (which is beyond the maximum level). 

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A02 Milkshake

In supporting the explanation of the Boundary Model, Herman and Mack’s study  found that if the restrained eaters in their experiment had more milkshake preloads before eating ice cream, they was more likely to eat more ice cream, when opposed to non-restrained eaters who ate less ice cream if they had more milkshake preloads. They concluded that when the restrained eaters so pasted their cognitive boundary they had a ‘what the hell effect’, which is also typically seen in alcoholics and smokers which results in a binge of the cognitively undesired E.G: the desire to avoid going beyond 2100 calories leads to a binge on loads of chocolate cake, which equals calories beyond the desired. 

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A02 Individual differences, lipoprotein lipase

However, other research suggests that the success or failure of dieting can be due to other factors. Ogden pointed out that although dieters, bulimics and some anorexics report episodes of overeating, the behaviour of restricting anorexics cannot be explained using The Restraint Theory, and therefore it is not right to generalize the behaviour of some individuals to others due to individual differences. For an example, an obese person may be able to lose weight through mainly just a change in diet, while other research suggests that some people have naturally higher levels of lipoprotein lipase(LPL) which makes it more likely for them to gain weight as LPL is used to help store calories as fat. 

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A02 Lab

Additionally, Herman and Mack’s evidence to support the Boundary Model was conducted in laboratory conditions, meaning there was a good control of extraneous variables but the artificial nature of the study consequently makes it lack in ecological validity, meaning that the findings may not be applicable to the real world. This is because other factors could influence the success or failure of an individual’s dieting such as social, emotion or motivational influences. 

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A01 Ionic processes of mental control

Another explanation to why we have success or failure in dieting is the theory of Ironic Processes of Mental Control. This theory suggests that in denial of certain foods through suppression, we are more likely to have an increases preoccupation with the very foods the individual wishes to avoid. 

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A02 Restrained-rebound Soetens study

Supporting this explanation for the success or failure of dieting in an independent groups design conducted by Soetens et al, found that the restrained group used more thought suppression than the other groups, and also showed a rebound effect (thought more about food) afterwards. 

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A02 Cognitive approach

The theory of Ironic Processes of Mental Control provides a cognitive explanation for success or failure of dieting, an advantage of which is that it considers the complexity of our thought processing which results in our behaviour towards food. Meanwhile a disadvantage of this approach is that it lacks to factor in the influential environment around us such as cultural norms, for an example in Islamic communities fasting occurs during the holy days of Ramadan where no food or drink is prohibited. Also much research has proven success or failure of dieting involves a mixture of factors for the individuals overall outcome such as genetics. 

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A02 Deterministic

In addition, the explanation suggested by the theory of Ironic Processes of Mental Control is deterministic. The theory proposes that when attempting to supress thoughts, food that is denied, will become more attractive. However some people that supress thoughts of certain foods will be able to deny these foods suggesting that the explanation cannot be generalized to everyone for the failure or success of dieting, resulting in lack of external validity. 

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A01 Detail theory

(Expand: idea that if shown more detail of what they was going to eat more likely to be interested, application for dieting) 

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A02 Gumdrop study

(Expand: Study that showed one group just the colour of the gumdrop, the other group was shown the flavour and what it contained. Interested group ate more gumdrops than the control group) 

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A02 issue flavour, artificial Lab

(Expand: idea that the people may not have liked the flavour, individual differences. There could be demand characteristics and artifical enviroment. How can this study relate to food disorders such as bulimia? Only one type of food, reductionist view of the causes of why people avoid or fail at dieting) 

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