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Eat Weight Disord. 2013 Dec;18(4):395-401. doi: 10.1007/s40519-013-0057-4. Epub 2013 Aug 14.

Characteristics of individuals who report present and past weight loss behaviours: results from a Canadian university community.

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Department of Physical Education, Faculty of Education Sciences, Laval University, Québec, G1V 0A6, Canada,



To characterise individuals who reported present and past weight loss behaviours on psycho-behavioural factors known to influence body weight, e.g. overeating, dietary restriction.


An online questionnaire was distributed to a university community. Questions pertaining to present weight loss, previous weight loss, eating behaviour tendencies, perceived stress and sleep quality were answered by 3,069 individuals. Body weight and height were self-reported.


Present and past weight loss behaviours were prevalent in the sample, with 33.3 % of the participants who reported trying to lose weight, 33.1 % who reported having previously lost weight (>10 lbs), and 18.8 % who reported repeated weight loss behaviour (i.e. present and past weight loss behaviours). Trying to lose weight and previous weight loss were both independently associated with increased risk for psycho-behavioural characteristics known to be associated with obesity, e.g. overeating tendencies, perceived stress, short sleep duration. This risk was particularly elevated among the underweight/normal-weight individuals who reported repeated weight loss behaviours. Indeed, adjusted odds ratios for reporting restrictive and overeating tendencies, perceived stress and short sleep for these individuals were significantly higher compared to their underweight/normal-weight peers who did not report repeated weight loss behaviours (adjusted odds ratios 4.7, 2.7, 1.8, and 1.8, respectively, p < 0.01 to <0.0001).


Normal-weight individuals reporting weight loss behaviours are characterised by a psycho-behaviour profile which may further increase their risk of weight gain.

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