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Original Articles

Why Do Young Women Diet? The Roles of Body Fat, Body Perception, and Body Ideal.

Amanda J. Gruber, Harrison G. Pope, Jr., Justine K. Lalonde, and James I. Hudson

Published: August 1, 2001

Article Abstract

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 matrix.

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.

Volume: 62

Quick Links: Side Effects-Medication , Weight

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