Dieting and health in young Australian women

Justin Kenardy*, Wendy J. Brown, Emma Vogt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


This paper examines the prevalence of dieting behaviours and correlates with physical and mental health in young Australian women who are participants in the Australian Longitudinal Study of Women's Health. A total of 14 686 women aged 18-23 years, randomly selected from the National Medicare database, with over-sampling from rural and remote areas, responded to a questionnaire seeking dieting and health information. The results showed that 66.5 percent of the women had a BMI within the healthy weight range (18-< 25 kg/m2). However only 21.6 percent of these women were happy with their weight and almost half (46 percent) had dieted to lose weight in the last year (also one in five who had a BMI < 18.5 kg/m2). High frequentcy of dieting (rather than dieting per se) and earlier dieting onset were associated with poorer physical and mental health (including depression), more disordered eating (bingeing and purging), extreme weight and shape dissatisfaction and more frequent general health problems. The results suggest that there is a need for programmes that will enhance self esteem and weight/shape acceptance and promote more appropriate strategies for maintenance of healthy weight.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-254
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Eating Disorders Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


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