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Int J Eat Disord. 2005 May;37(4):285-93.

Treatment of overweight in children and adolescents: does dieting increase the risk of eating disorders?

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.



Overweight is a serious health problem in children and adolescents. Some investigators fear that dieting, the principal method of reducing body weight, may precipitate eating disorders and related complications. This review examined the literature on the effects of dieting on eating behavior and psychological status in youth.


Electronic databases were searched for articles containing combinations of the following keywords: weight loss, dieting, treatment, overweight, obesity, anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, eating disorder, children, and adolescents. A manual search of reference lists also was conducted.


Five relevant studies were found. Their findings suggest that a professionally administered weight loss poses minimal risks of precipitating eating disorders in overweight children and adolescents. Significant improvements in psychological status also were observed in several studies.


Concerns about potential ill effects of dieting should not dissuade overweight youth from pursuing sensible methods of weight loss.

Copyright 2005 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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