LOSING WEIGHT AND EATING DISORDER RISK: THE ROLE OF DIET TYPE, DIETING STRATEGIES, BMI, AND PSYCHOLOGICAL FACTORS IN ACHIEVING WEIGHT LOSS AND INCREASING EATING DISORDER RISK
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Although research has investigated various weight loss strategies among those with obesity, and the link between a desire to lose weight and eating disorders is well known, research focused on understanding how dieting attempts increase eating disorder risk is almost completely lacking. The present study was the first to examine these constructs simultaneously to determine how psychological factors, dieting strategies, type of diet, and BMI contribute to weight loss and/or eating disorder risk. College students (n=918) answered a series of online questionnaires assessing dieting habits, psychological traits, and disordered eating. Results indicated that type of diet and dieting strategy was only a risk factor for some individuals, depending on other psychological and physical risk factors. Results point to the importance of dieting motives, dieting strategies, and psychological factors that combine with type of diet and BMI to put individuals at eating disorder risk. Findings also indicate which type of diet or dieting strategies can help individuals reach their weight loss goals without creating risk for eating disorders. Furthermore, results demonstrate which factors only contribute to eating disorder risk, only promote or hinder weight loss, or impact both eating disorder risk and weight loss. The present study highlights psychological factors that can be used in interventions when attempting to treat or prevent eating disorders, according to one’s current weight category.