Objective: To investigate the links between vegetarianism (meat avoidance) and weight control in young women.
Methods: Self-reported food habits (indicating meat avoidance and weight loss dieting) and dietary restraint (using the Dutch Eating Behavior Questionnaire [DEBQ]) were collected from 131 young adult women. Restraint scores and weight loss behavior were compared between vegetarians and nonvegetarians. In addition, reasons for meat avoidance were identified in the vegetarian subjects.
Results: Vegetarianism, broadly defined, was reported by 34.3% of participants. Vegetarians had significantly higher dietary restraint, but did not differ in current dieting.
Discussion: The relationship between vegetarianism and weight control is complex. Vegetarianism may be best seen as a method for complicating the normalization of eating rather than a simple risk factor for eating disorders.