Psychology ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-30-2017


Dieting is commonly considered a weight loss technique, but research consistently shows that it does not result in weight loss. Thirty to fifty percent of women report that they are dieting at any given time, typically by responding to a single “yes/no” item asking whether they are dieting. To explain why dieting may not result in weight loss, a detailed picture was needed as to people’s behavior when they report that they are dieting, including weight loss strategies and dietary intake. Other constructs previously studied as similar to dieting were “watching what I eat” and “eating healthy.” More information was needed on the behaviors comprising these types of eating. Finally, research had examined predictors of dieting and weight loss behavior, but work was needed to unify results from across this area. This study used a daily diary methodology with a sample of college women to investigate the behaviors involved in dieting, the way dieting differs from “watching” and “eating healthy,” and which predictors of dieting behavior are the most salient. Dieters reported more behavior changes than non-dieters and individuals who reported “watching” or “eating healthy,” in terms of both dietary intake and weight loss strategies. “Watching” and “eating healthy” were behaviorally similar. In terms of predicting weight loss strategies and caloric intake, a factor comprised of weight loss goal and appearance motivation was significant among dieters. Among non-dieters, a different pattern of significant predictors suggested some unhealthy beliefs and strategies.

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name


First Committee Member (Chair)

Jane Ellen Smith

Second Committee Member

Deborah Cohen

Third Committee Member

Bruce Smith

Fourth Committee Member

Kevin Vowles




Dieting, healthy eating, weight control strategies, college students

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Included in

Psychology Commons