Dieting severity and gastrointestinal symptoms in college women

J Am Coll Health. 1996 Sep;45(2):67-71. doi: 10.1080/07448481.1996.9936864.


Young women report symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), such as pain, bloating, and changes in bowel movements, more often than young men. Young women with eating disorders also report these gastrointestinal symptoms frequently. We hypothesized that if dieting behaviors were associated with these symptoms, the prevalence and frequency of the symptoms would be positively related to dieting severity in young women. We interviewed 301 1st-year college women representing the continuum of dieting severity. We found that severity of dieting was positively related to frequency of abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation, and that the women who reported 3 or more symptoms regularly scored higher on a scale for dieting severity. Although this study did not examine the relationship between dieting severity and clinical IBS, the findings suggested that dieting is associated with gastrointestinal symptoms in young women.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Comorbidity
  • Diet, Reducing / adverse effects*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Midwestern United States / epidemiology
  • Prevalence