Chronic Dieting

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Many individuals with eating disorders report habitual dieting prior to the onset of their illness. Repeated dieting during adolescence increases the risk of eating disorders, with some patients reporting attempts at weight loss as early as age nine. The incidence of eating disorders may be as much as incidence: number of new cases reported eight times greater among girls with a history of dieting, with the initiation each year of a weight loss regimen often marking the onset of the eating disorder itself. Dietary restriction may result in alterations in brain chemistry that can further increase anorexic tendencies, while hunger resulting from caloric restriction can set off binge eating, thus establishing a pattern. While most healthy individuals who attempt to lose weight can stop at any given time, depression and major life stresses in combination with habitual dieting can predispose others to develop an eating disorder. see also Addiction, Food; Anorexia Nervosa; Bulimia Nervosa; Eating Disorders.

Karen Ansel


American Dietetic Association (1998). Nutrition Intervention in the Treatment of Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS). Chicago: Author.

American Psychiatric Association (2000). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition. Washington, DC: Author.

Cassell, Dana, and Gleaves, David (2000). The Encyclopedia of Eating Disorders, 2nd edition. New York: Facts on File.

Cataldo, Corrine B.; Rolfes, Sharon R.; Whitney, Eleanor N. (1994). Understanding Normal and Clinical Nutrition, 4th edition. St. Paul, MN: West Publishing.

Costin, Carolyn (1996). The Eating Disorder Sourcebook. Los Angeles: Lowell House.

Dare, Chris; Szmukler, Georg; Treasure, Janet (1995). Handbook of Eating Disorders: Theory, Treatment, and Research. New York: Wiley.

Escott-Stump, Sylvia, and Mahan, L. Kathleen (1996). Krause's Food, Nutrition, and Diet Therapy, 9th edition. Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders.

Franseen, Lisa (1999). "Understanding and Identifying Eating Problems in Synchronized Swimmers, Part 1." Synchro Swimming USA (Winter).

Garfinkel, Paul E., and Garner, David M. (1997) Handbook of Treatment for Eating Disorders, 2nd edition. New York: Guilford Press.

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Internet Resources

McKinley Health Center, University of Illinois at Urbana. "Understanding Eating Disturbances and Disorders: A Guide for Helping Family and Friends." Available from <>

National Institute of Mental Health. "Eating Disorders: Facts about Eating Disorders and the Search for Solutions." Available from <>

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