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SSIB: Early-Age Dieting Tied to Negative Health Outcomes Later

Earlier age tied to greater likelihood of overweight, obese and alcohol misuse

WEDNESDAY, July 30, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Dieting earlier in life may set young women up for extreme weight control measures and other negative health behaviors later in life, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior, held from July 29 and August 2 in Seattle.

Lauren A. Holland, from Florida State University in Tallahassee, and colleagues examined trends in specific dieting strategies from 1982 to 2012 in young adult women. Survey data from a sample of college-aged women in 1982 (624), 1992 (566), 2002 (542), and 2012 (462) were analyzed, and longitudinal outcomes were examined using information from a subset of the sample for which 10-year follow-up data were available (1,340 women).

The researchers found that specific dieting strategies have followed a fad-like trend. Over the study period, dieting frequency in young adulthood declined across cohorts (P < 0.001), while age of dieting onset increased across cohorts (P = 0.035). Age of dieting onset longitudinally predicted use of extreme weight control behaviors 10 years later (P = 0.02). Lower age of dieting onset additionally predicted greater alcohol consumption (P < 0.01) and alcohol misuse (P < 0.05), as well as greater chance of being overweight or obese (P < 0.05) at 10-year follow-up.

"These data indicate dieting earlier in life may set the stage for use of more extreme weight control behaviors and other negative health outcomes later in life," the authors write.

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