Brief non-dieting intervention increases intuitive eating and reduces dieting intention, body image dissatisfaction, and anti-fat attitudes: A randomized controlled trial

Appetite. 2020 May 1:148:104556. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2019.104556. Epub 2020 Jan 1.


This study developed and examined a brief dissonance-based non-dieting intervention designed to help college women reject unhealthy dieting behaviors, accept their bodies, and increase healthy eating. Participants included 94 female university students (mean age = 20.6 years; mean BMI = 23.8 kg/m2), randomly assigned either to the non-dieting intervention condition or a brochure control condition. The intervention consisted of two 90-120 min interactive group sessions designed to engender the rejection of dieting, increase body acceptance, and develop healthy eating skills. Assessment measures were collected at baseline, post-treatment, and one-month follow-up. The group sessions produced significant improvements in the intervention group compared to the control group on measures of dieting intention, intuitive eating, body image dissatisfaction, eating concerns, and anti-fat attitudes. These effects were sustained at one-month follow-up. There were also overall improvements over time in dietary intake and mental health-related quality of life across conditions. This study extends the research on non-dieting approaches by using a brief, dissonance-based structure and by applying the intervention to a young adult sample that included participants of normal weight. The findings here indicate that a non-dieting approach is acceptable and feasible, and can result in improvements in eating and weight-related behaviors, in young adult women.

Keywords: Anti-Fat attitudes; Body image; Eating behavior; Eating concern; Intuitive eating; Non-dieting.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude*
  • Body Dissatisfaction*
  • Body Image
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight*
  • Cognition
  • Diet, Reducing / psychology*
  • Fear
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intention*
  • Intuition*
  • Mental Health
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Prejudice
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Students
  • Universities
  • Young Adult