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J Clin Psychiatry. 2001 Aug;62(8):609-11.

Why do young women diet? The roles of body fat, body perception, and body ideal.

Author information

1
Biological Psychiatry Laboratory, McLean Hospital, Belmont, MA 02478, USA. agruber@mclean.org

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

To assess the relative roles of body fat, body perception, and body ideals as motivations for dieting in college women.

METHOD:

We compared 45 college women who reported having dieted with 32 who had not, using a novel computerized test of body image called the somatomorphic matrix.

RESULTS:

As expected, the difference in body fat between subjects' "perceived body" and "ideal body" was significantly greater in dieters than in nondieters (p < .001). Remarkably, however, this difference remained highly significant even after adjusting for the subjects' actual measured body fat (p = .002). Further analysis revealed that this difference persisted, not because dieters had unrealistic ideals of thinness, but because they had distorted perceptions of their fatness.

CONCLUSION:

Distorted body image perception, a potentially treatable condition, may play an unexpectedly large role in motivating young women to diet.

PMID:
11561932
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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