Why Do Young Women Diet? The Roles of Body Fat, Body Perception, and Body Ideal.[CME]
J Clin Psychiatry 2001;62(8):609-611
© Copyright 2015 Physicians Postgraduate Press, Inc.
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Background: To assess the relative roles of body
fat, body perception, and body ideals as motivations for dieting
in college women.
Method: We compared 45 college women who
reported having dieted with 32 who had not, using a novel
computerized test of body image called the somatomorphic
Results: As expected, the difference in body fat
between subjects' "perceived body" and "ideal
body" was significantly greater in dieters than in
nondieters (p < .001). Remarkably, however, this difference
remained highly significant even after adjusting for the
subjects' actual measured body fat (p = .002). Further analysis
revealed that this difference persisted, not because dieters had
unrealistic ideals of thinness, but because they had distorted
perceptions of their fatness.
Conclusion: Distorted body image
perception, a potentially treatable condition, may play an
unexpectedly large role in motivating young women to diet.