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Title: Psychosocial aspects of weight control and weight concern in adolescent girls
Author: Johnson, Fiona
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2002
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The increasing prevalence of obesity has been described as a 'global epidemic' (WHO 2000), leading to calls for individuals to make changes to their dietary behaviours and physical activity levels. As the same time there is concern about the harmful effects of excessive weight concerns and dietary restriction, particularly amongst young women. Many girls who control their weight experience high levels of psychological distress and a small number go on to develop eating disorders. This thesis uses data from a survey of 1177 adolescent girls, which incorporates a one- year follow-up of the sample, to examine social and psychological factors which predispose individuals to weight control attempts. It aims to distinguish aspects of weight control associated with harmful levels of distress from those which lead to healthy lifestyle changes, examining the contribution of intensity of dieting, involvement in specific weight control practices, dietary restraint and body dissatisfaction in order to investigate which are the most harmful aspects of weight control. Weight control and dietary restraint has been associated with a number of detrimental psychological and behavioural outcomes, including depression, low self esteem and bulimic binge eating. Results presented here, however, suggest that these outcomes may be more closely associated with the high levels of body dissatisfaction found in dieters, and that the direct effects of weight control behaviours may not be as strong as has been claimed. They also suggest that the sub-group of dieters who practice only healthy, recommended methods of weight control do not exhibit many of the negative psychological and behavioural characteristics of dieters. Future research should take a more integrated approach to the prevention of obesity and eating disorders, and focus on whether it is possible to raise awareness of healthy ways to control weight, without increasing levels of harmful body dissatisfaction.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available