Competitive dieting | Eating Disorders Victoria

Competitive dieting is a dangerous phenomenon which, when taken to extreme levels, can lead to food and weight obsession, as well as disordered eating behaviours. Television shows such as ‘The Biggest Loser’ have seen a marked trend in competitive dieting programs across many workplaces and gyms, whereby people are encouraged to participate individually or as teams to lose the most amount of weight in a specified time period, often for a prize or some form of reward.

Another common and dangerous instance where competitive dieting is common is among high school girls. Many full blown eating disorders can stem from a seemingly innocent experimentation with dieting whereby a group of friends decide to start a diet together. It is common in competitive dieting circumstances for somebody to start a diet with friends, and become obsessed with losing the most weight which can lead to unhealthy and dangerous behaviours regarding food intake and/or physical activity levels.  In males, it is more common to see competitive situations surrounding physical activity, eg. in sports. This may be equally as dangerous for the development of disordered eating or lifestyle behaviours if the competition is taken to extreme levels.

Regardless of the context, competitive dieting is a dangerous and unhealthy trend. While participating in competitive dieting will not amount to an eating disorder in every instance, if a person possesses certain personality traits, brain chemistry and/or external factors they are placing themselves at considerable risk of developing an eating disorder. 

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