Effects of dieting-related messages on psychological and weight control variables




The current study sought to empirically examine the immediate and short-term effects of dieting-related psychoeducational messages on established risk factors for eating pathology and weight control variables.


One-hundred thirty nine participants were randomly assigned to a prodieting, antidieting, or control message condition. Variables were assessed at baseline, post-test, and 2-week follow-up.


The prodieting condition produced significantly greater dieting intentions, perceived pressure to lose weight, and internalization intentions, whereas the antidieting message yielded significantly lower bulimic intentions. Healthy eating significantly increased from baseline to follow-up in the prodieting condition. No other behavioral changes were found. Perceived pressure to lose weight mediated the relationship between diet message and post-test weight control intentions, state negative-affect, and body dissatisfaction.


The findings provide initial support for the short-term efficacy of the prodieting message to increase healthy eating behaviors; however, immediate increases in established risk factors for eating pathology also emerged. Implications are discussed. © 2007 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 2008