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J Abnorm Psychol. 2003 Feb;112(1):166-70.

An experimental test of the effect of weight-loss dieting on bulimic pathology: tipping the scales in a different direction.

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Department of Psychology, University of Texas at Austin, 78712, USA.


Although it is widely accepted that dieting increases the risk for bulimic pathology, this hypothesis has not been tested in a randomized experiment. Accordingly, the authors conducted an experimental test of the dietary restraint model by randomly assigning nonobese women (N = 82) to either a 6-week, low-calorie diet or a waitlist control condition. The diet intervention resulted in significant weight loss, confirming that dieting was successfully manipulated. Contrary to the restraint model, dieting resulted in significant decreases in bulimic symptoms relative to the control condition. Results converge with past findings from randomized obesity prevention and treatment trials and provide evidence that dieting does not promote bulimic pathology; rather, effective decreases in caloric intake appear to reduce bulimic symptoms.

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