Prevalence and correlates of chronic dieting in a multi-ethnic U.S. community sample

Eat Weight Disord. 2006 Jun;11(2):91-9. doi: 10.1007/BF03327757.


Despite the increasing rates of obesity in the U.S. and corresponding rise in weight-related concerns among men and women in all ethnic groups, most research in the U.S. has been conducted using white female samples. This study explored the prevalence and correlates of chronic dieting (high levels of dietary restraint) among a U.S. communitybased sample of Hispanic, Asian, Black, and White women and men (N=1257). Chronic dieting was more common among women than men, and less common among Asians than other ethnic groups. Across the total sample, dietary restraint was positively correlated with weight history, disordered eating attitudes, distorted body experiences, and depression, and was negatively correlated with self-esteem. Female chronic dieters showed the highest degree of disturbance; compared with female non-dieters (and male chronic dieters), they reported lower self-esteem, higher depression, and more disordered eating attitudes. As hypothesized, they also exhibited a higher degree of acculturation to Anglo-American society. Male chronic dieters had more disordered eating attitudes and experienced greater body distortion than male non-dieters. Interestingly, these results were not moderated by ethnicity. Although the prevalence of chronic dieting differs among ethnic groups living in the U.S., the psychological characteristics related to eating and weight appear similar for individuals who diet, irrespective of ethnicity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Body Image
  • Depression
  • Diet, Reducing*
  • Ethnic Groups*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / ethnology*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Factors
  • United States / epidemiology