Do you know someone who’s almost always following one diet or another, either to get that “perfect body” or to lose weight (even when they don’t need to)? Every time you meet them, they gush about the new calorie restriction diet they’ve been trying out or ask you for suggestions, and you find yourself thinking, “why are you so obsessed with dieting?”
Before you dismiss their “obsession” over diets, you might want to consider another perspective. Chances are, they deal with what’s known as chronic dieting syndrome.
What Is Chronic Dieting Syndrome?
Chronic dieting syndrome can be described as a situation in which an individual is overly focused on trying different diets and has been going on and off-calorie restricting diets for more than two years. They’re also extremely concerned or conscious of their weight and size, which only strengthens their drive to diet. Chronic dieting syndrome also describes individuals who consistently diet to lose weight without much success and those who are juggling between diets because of weight regain after previous success.
Who Does It Affect?
Dieting to lose weight is a little too common a practice in the United States. Chronic dieting syndrome mostly affects individuals who are or perceive themselves to be overweight. It’s also common in the fashion and fitness industry, where individuals have to or attempt to adhere to certain beauty and fitness standards.
While both men and women can be chronic dieters, the latter are more likely to experience chronic dieting syndrome. Research has shown that nearly 50% of North American women exhibit dieting behavior at any given point and that they are more likely to restrict their calorie intake in order to lose weight.
How Does It Affect Them?
Chronic dieting syndrome can have adverse psychological as well as physiologic consequences. Research has shown that it can impact a person’s metabolism in the long run, which can lead to health complications and may also require lifestyle adjustments.
Many people who participate in chronic dieting do so because of social pressure or their perceived self-image. Going “off track” or not having much success with their incessant dieting routines can result in feelings of low self-esteem and a lack of self-worth. This can cause them to isolate and avoid social gatherings where they believe that their weight and size will be draw attention and will cause them discomfort.
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