Discuss Two or More Explanations for the Success and/or Failure of Dieting (9+16 Marks)

678 Words May 16th, 2012 3 Pages
Discuss two or more explanations for the success and/or failure of dieting (9+16 marks)
Dieting is increasingly popular as people try to fit into the thin western ideal of beauty. Theories for the failure of dieting include the restraint theory, while it has been suggested that the key to success is the amount of attention we give to the detail of our food.
The restraint theory (Herman and Mack) suggests that restraining our food intake actually increases the risk of overeating, which is why many diets fail and some people even end up putting more weight on. Herman and Polivy (1984) developed the boundary model to explain this. According to this model, dieters have a larger range between their hunger and satiety levels, so it takes them
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He points out that the behaviour of restricting anorexics cannot be explained by this theory. If restricting food intake leads to over eating, how do they manage to starve themselves? However, it can be argued that as anorexia is a mental disorder, its behaviour cannot be generalised with dieters, to whom this theory is relevant.
This theory also has real life implications for treatment, as obese individuals are often told to diet. But according to this theory, this will result in over-eating, which may make the patient depressed and so they over-eat even more. A limitation of this theory is that it offers no alternative for these people.
An explanation for the success of dieting has been proposed by Redden (2008), who states that the key to success is detail. Instead of looking at their meals as ‘yet another salad’, Redden suggests dieters should concentrate on details of the meal (such as tomato, lettuce, ect.). This will prevent dieters becoming bored with their food so they are less likely to break their diet and eat something unhealthy.
Redden carried out a study to support this hypothesis. She gave 135 people 22 jelly beans each, one at a time. Each time a bean was dispensed, they were either given general information about it (e.g. ‘bean number 7’) or more specific details (e.g. ‘cherry flavoured bean number 7’). Participants who saw the general information become bored with the task quicker and those who saw details enjoyed the task more. This