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date: 05 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter reviews theories and empirical evidence linking dietary restraint to eating pathology. Prospective studies suggest that dieting increases risk for future onset of bulimic pathology, yet experiments indicate that assignment to weight loss and weight maintenance diets reduces eating disorder symptoms. The chapter considers explanations for these inconsistent findings. The analysis suggests that dieting is not a causal risk factor for bulimic pathology but may be a proxy risk factor. It posits that a tendency toward overeating may lead to both dieting and eating pathology. Nonetheless, fasting does increase the reward value of food and appears to increase the likelihood of binge eating, suggesting that eating disorder treatments should promote consuming three healthy meals daily. The chapter proposes studies that should help differentiate dieting behaviors that can be used for healthy weight management versus dieting behaviors that increase risk for eating pathology.

Keywords: binge eating, bulimia nervosa, dietary restraint, dieting, eating disorder, obesity

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