Explanations for the success or failure of dieting

psychology unit 3 aqa a A2 

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  • Created by: lauren
  • Created on: 10-06-12 13:48

Restraint theory - dishinibition

Restrained eating become synonymous with dieting but Herman and Macks restraint theory suggests that attempting to eat may actually increase the probability of overeating. It is the dishinibition (loss of control) of restraint that is the cause of overeating in restrained eaters - Wardle and Beales - randomly assigned 27 obese women to one of three groups for 7 weeks - restrained eating, exercise or non treatment - found that the omwne in the restrained eating ate more than the women in the other two groups

However - Ogden argues that the restrain theory may explain overeating of some groups of disordered eating but the behaviour of restricting anorexics where weight loss is achieved by restricitng calorie intake cannot be explained this way - if trying not to eat causes overeating then how come restricting anorexics manage to starve themselves?


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Boundary model

Explains failure of dieting in terms of the greater distance between hunger and satiety in dieters - takes dieters longer to feel hungry and therefore more food to reach a state of satiety - dieters have a self imposed desired intake - unlike non dieters when they go over this threshold they experience a what the hell effect and continue to eat until they reach satiety which is beyond their level of imposed satiety as part of their diet - good example of combining physiological and psychological factors to explain feeding behaviour - not reductionist as it accepts it is a complex phenomenom - much of the work is conducted in labs - high levels of reliability but low levels of ecological validity as it may not represent dieting in the real world as it may entail more complicated issues - however it doesnt specify what emotional and cognitive factors lead to the 'what the hell effect'

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AO2/3 for restraint theory

Real world application - restraint theory suggests that restraint leads to overeating but the treatment for obesity commonly includes restraint as a way of loosing weight - so overeating may be a consequence of obesity treatment leaving many obese individuals feeling depressed, feeling failure and are so unable to control their weight 

Cultural differences in obesity - some cultural groups appear to find it harder to diet successfully because of their natural inclination to obesity - Park - asian adults more prone to obesity than europeans - Misra - asian children and adolescents have a greater central fat mass compared to other ethnic groups - have to be careful when generalising results as other factors than restraint may be involved to such a biologicl predisposition that makes people more likely to gain weight and become obese

Limitations of anecdotal evidence - many studies of dieting success or failure rely on personal accounts - evidence then used to justify claims about dieting strategies - but memory is not 100% accurate so the information pp's recall may be impaired meaning claims about dieting may be incorrect 

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The role of denial

The theory of ironic processes of mental control - attempting to suppress a though frequently has the opposite effect making it even more prominent - central to any dieting strategy is the decision not to focus on certain foods - results in a state of denial as dieters attempt to suppress thoughts about forbidden foods as part of their diet - Wegner suggests any attempt to suppress thoughts of forbidden foods only increases the dieters precoccupation with the very fods they are trying to deny themsleves - soon as food becomes denied it becomes more attractive

Experimental support - Soetens - found pp's who suppressed thoughts about food also showed a rebound effect and were more likely to think about food after this suppression - might explain why denial of thoughts about food leads to greater rather than less preoccupation with it

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Born to be fat? LPL - deterministic

Some people find dieting ineffective because they have high levels of LPL which make the body more effective at storing calories - so this would challenge the view that restraint or denial alone could be effective as a means of losing or maintaining weight - kerns study of 9 pp's supported this - small sample size - individual differences may affect results - brings in a biological aspect - may promote more positive attitidues than guilt as individuals realise it is not themselves who are causing themsleves to be overweight

Gender differences in LPL? sex hormones play a part in LPL actvity - oestrogen inhibits LPL activity which explains why women put on weight after the menopause when oestrogen levels are lower - consequence of this is that dieting through restraint or denial may be more difficult for post-menopausal women for biological reasons - could save time for these women and maybe a different approach to dieting could be more successful such as instead or restraint or denial, exercise may be more appropriate?

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Detail and dieting

Fending off boredom - Redden claims that people usually like experiences less when they have to repeat them constantly - when it comes to dieting this makes it harder to stick to a particular regime - but by focusing on the specific details of a meal people get bored less easily and are better able to maintain their diet - redden gave 22 jelly beans to 135 pp's - jelly beans given out 1 at a time with some info - some info was specific such as cherry flavour jelly bean number 7 others were general such as bean number 7 - found pp's with the specific info ate more jelly beans

Real world application - led to the development of anti-dieting programmes aimed at replacing dieting with conventional eating - emphasise regulation of eating by body hunger and satiety signals rather than developing inappropriate attitudes to food which have shown to be inaffective at weight control - meta-analysis - of effectiveness of anti-dieting programmes found they could improve both eating behaviour and psychological wellbeing and led to weight stability rather than weight change - meta-analysis - large sample size so individual differences unlikely to affect results - may show the file drawer affect (choosing only studies that benefit the hypothesis) and studies that have been compared may not have the same methodology which would make the results inaccurate 

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