Who diets? Most people and especially when they worry about food

Denise De Ridder, Marieke Adriaanse, Catharine Evers, Aukje Verhoeven

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Dieting is generally not effective in establishing weight loss and research has focused on documenting these negative consequences of dieting. Much less is known about why people diet. The present study employed a large and representative community sample to determine the demographic and psychological correlates of dieting and to examine the hypothesis that food concerns are associated with considering oneself a dieter. Participants from a community sample (n=1113) completed an internet survey on dieting (restraint scale of the DEBQ) and its demographic and psychological correlates, with a specific focus on food concerns. In addition, they completed a 7-day snack diary to determine their food intake. According to sex-specific norm scores, 63.2% of the men and 62.7% of the women qualified as a dieter, defined as having elevated scores on the DEBQ restraint scale. Women and older people more often reported to diet, as did people with higher weights. In line with our hypothesis, food concerns (weight concerns and concerns about the diet-health link) were most strongly associated with dieting. Considering oneself as a dieter was weakly related to actual snack consumption whereas food concerns were unrelated to the consumption of snacks. Considering oneself as a dieter in terms of endorsing items on a restraint scale is an expression of food concerns that is virtually unaccompanied by changes in food intake. These findings suggest a reinterpretation of the dieting concept in terms of a strategy for coping with food concerns which need consideration in future research. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-108
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2014


  • Community sample
  • Dieting
  • Food concerns
  • Restraint


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