Diets don’t cause eating disorders in obese women

obese-womenIt is the general perception that any form of dieting would eventually increase the likelihood to binge on high calorie foods and may even lead to eating disorders. Scientists from the Department of Psychiatry, Weight and Eating Disorders Program, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have proved it that it is not necessarily the case with obese women.

In a randomised experiment, 123 obese women were asked to go on three different types of diets for 20 weeks. The diet regimes were divided as

  1. MR –  a liquid meal replacement diet with 4 servings of 1000 calories per day
  2. BDD  – a balanced deficit diet of conventional foods that provided 1200-1500 calories per day
  3. ND –  these were women that were asked not to restrict their calories per day.

The experiments continued weekly for 20 weeks and then bi-weekly for the next 20 weeks.

When scientists analysed the results at week 20, there were no significant differences among the different group of dieters who had an inclination to binge or hungry episodes. At week 28,  MR participants did report more cases of binge eating than other two groups.No differences, however, were observed between groups at weeks 40 or 65. At no time did any participant meet criteria for binge-eating disorder.

Participants on calorie deficit diets had the best results as they reduced their weight without the need to binge and also had a boost to their self confidence with symptoms of depression also decreasing. So concerns about eating disorders shouldn’t be  a reason to start dieting.

Further reading : Dieting and the development of eating disorders in obese women: results of a randomized controlled trial.

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