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J Health Psychol. 2000 Jan;5(1):7-15. doi: 10.1177/135910530000500105.

Relation of Dieting in College and High School Students to Symptoms Associated with Semi-starvation.

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College of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, University of Cincinnati Medical Center, PO Box 670559, Cincinnati, OH 45267-0559, USA. [Tel. (513) 558-3429.


Dieting and concern with weight were found to be associated with psychological and neurological symptoms observed in cases of severe semi-starvation. College students of both sexes (n 292) and high school females (n121) rated themselves on dietary restraint and psychological and physical symptoms that were prevalent in men after 24 weeks in the Minnesota semi-starvation experiment of 1944-5. Apprehension, irritability, and moodiness were associated with a high concern with restraint. Blank spells, hunger pain, concern for health, and social withdrawal were associated with a history of restraint. Depression, lower self-esteem, eating behavior patterns, apathy, and decreased motivation were associated with both restraint parameters. Our results suggest that normal dieting may be more closely related to psychological and health risks associated with chronic semi-starvation than is commonly believed.


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