"The damage done by dieting can no longer be totally ignored."

[Content Note: Food restricting; disordered eating.]

Sue Thomason:
I'm sitting here with my mouth hanging open in shock. Good shock. All because I've read the report from the Body Image Inquiry. I knew it was released this week but I wasn't expecting much as truth is more often than not bypassed when profits are involved. But Reflections on Body Image, co-authored by MPs and the Central YMCA, is incredibly enlightened and if the recommendations made in the document are taken seriously this will be the biggest step forward in public health since the smoking ban.

The report, published by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Body Image after a three-month public inquiry, makes some powerful recommendations and the biggest stride forward lies in the report's acknowledgement that overeating is as much an eating disorder as anorexia and that eating too much and its effects, including obesity, are not a lifestyle choice and overeating can be the result of dieting.

The Body Image report concludes:

* According to experts there is no evidence available that diets work in the long term.
* Girls who diet are 12 times more likely to binge eat (a direct acknowledgement that dieting is a contributor to obesity not a solution to it).
* More than 95% of dieters regain the weight they lost (a result of the binge eating I'd expect).
* Getting rid of dieting could wipe out 70% of eating disorders (including the binge eating mentioned above, a side effect of which is often obesity.)

So here they're saying getting rid of dieting could largely reduce obesity. If this is the case, then wouldn't it be rational to conclude also that dieting has been a big contributor towards obesity?

Isn't this amazing? To have this even nodded to in an official report is great news. The damage done by dieting can no longer be totally ignored.
Every body is different, so different people certainly react differently to restricting food. For me, this just rings so true. I normally have a pretty small appetite, because I have a very slow metabolism. But if I start restricting food, and especially if I lose weight (for any reason, including illness), my appetite just becomes voracious. I am constantly hungry, not emotionally or psychologically hungry, and not "mouth-hungry," but physically hungry—an ungodly hunger accompanied by searing stomach pains if I don't eat. I can barely manage to keep it under control by eating a few almonds or a banana or some other snack nearly hourly. It is unbelievable. The physical desire to binge is overwhelming.

And I don't experience anything like it except when I restrict food (because my guts are made of garbage, and sometimes I just can't tolerate much food) and/or lose weight.

When I went to college, I was so afraid of the "freshman 15," I started eating reduced portions. I did this for weeks, and I did lose weight, but I also couldn't sleep. I would lie awake at night in wretched agony, my body craving food desperately. Eventually, I gave up and went back to eating regular portions, and I did not have any problems with hunger until the next time I tried some ill-considered food restriction plan.

Not all bodies behave this way. I have thin friends who decide to lose 5 or 10 pounds, restrict food for a bit, and shed the weight with no problems and no experience of profound bodily hunger. Different bodies definitely do different things. (What a novel concept.)

[H/T to Shaker RedSonja.]

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