Do unsuccessful dieters intentionally underreport food intake?

Int J Eat Disord. 1998 Nov;24(3):259-66. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1098-108x(199811)24:3<259::aid-eat3>;2-l.


Objective: A bogus pipeline paradigm was utilized to assess whether food intake underreporting by unsuccessful dieters is intentional.

Method: Twenty-eight subjects completed 1-week food diaries. Then, 17 subjects in the experimental condition kept 2-week food diaries while being told the researcher was verifying their report. Eleven subjects in the control group were asked merely to self-monitor for two more weeks.

Results: Results indicate that subjects in the experimental group reported significantly greater intake than control subjects, when controlling for reported intake during the screening phase and weight change.

Discussion: Thus, the belief that the researcher could verify their report improved the accuracy of patients' self-report. However, all subjects continued to underreport their dietary intake. In summary, underreporting may be an intentional attempt to manage presentation to others in a society that is increasingly critical of overweight persons.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diet, Reducing* / psychology
  • Eating* / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / diet therapy
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Self Disclosure