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Dangerous Dieting

The dangers of dieting

Dieting has been shown to be a strong predictor for the development of an eating disorder(1).

Disordered eating behaviours such as extreme dietary restriction, place people at higher risk of developing an eating disorder(2) and can make it 18 times more likely for young females to develop an eating disorder within 6 months(1).

As well as being an eating disorder risk factor, research shows that:

1. Dieting can be harmful 

Dieting is particularly dangerous for young people. 

For example, restrictive eating behaviours among young people is associated with adverse mental health outcomes, including depression, more disordered eating and a range of negative physical consequences(3)

2. Diets often fail 

Experimental studies have found that dieting is ineffective at reducing body weight in young people(4).

GPs can play a positive role in reducing risk dieting behaviours by promoting balanced and flexible eating and advising against extreme and restrictive diets and exercise programs.

Providing psychoeducation to clients about the negative physical and psychological effects of extreme dieting, and the benefits of balanced nutrition, may help to reduce eating disorder risk.

Normal eating is the healthy alternative to dieting. Normal eating, sometimes called "natural eating" is different for everyone. Everyone has their own intuitive sense of what feels right for them.

GP Dr Ashlea Broomfield discusses more effective to improve overall health and wellbeing.

In this video, Rachel Simeone (Psychologist) explores some of the issues around dieting and eating disorders.