Obesity Surgery

, Volume 19, Issue 8, pp 1116–1123 | Cite as

Chronic Dieting Among Extremely Obese Bariatric Surgery Candidates

  • Megan RoehrigEmail author
  • Robin M. Masheb
  • Marney A. White
  • Bruce S. Rothschild
  • Carolyn H. Burke-Martindale
  • Carlos M. Grilo
Clinical Research



Extremely obese bariatric surgery candidates report numerous episodes of both successful and unsuccessful dieting attempts, but little is known about the clinical significance of frequent dieting attempts in this patient group.


The current study examined psychological and weight-related correlates of self-reported dieting frequency in 219 bariatric surgery candidates (29 men and 190 women). Prior to surgery, patients completed a battery of established self-report assessments. Patients were dichotomized into chronic dieters (n = 109) and intermittent dieters (n = 110) based on a median split of self-reported percent time spent dieting during adulthood. The two dieting groups were compared on demographics, eating and weight history, eating disorder psychopathology, and global functioning.


Chronic dieters had significantly lower pre-operative body mass indexes (BMIs), lower highest-ever BMIs, more episodes of weight cycling, and earlier ages of onset for overweight and dieting than intermittent dieters. After controlling for differences in BMI, chronic dieters were found to have statistically but not clinically significant elevations in eating concerns, dietary restraint, and body dissatisfaction than infrequent dieters. The two groups, however, did not differ significantly on depressive symptoms, self-esteem, or health-related quality of life; nor did they differ in binge-eating status.


Chronic dieting is commonly reported among extremely obese bariatric candidates and is not associated with poorer psychological functioning or binge eating and may be beneficial in attenuating even greater weight gain. Our findings provide preliminary data to suggest that requiring additional presurgical weight loss attempts may not be warranted for the vast majority of extremely obese bariatric candidates.


Dieting Psychological functioning Eating pathology Weight history Insurance prerequisites 



The authors were supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (K24 DK070052, K23 DK071646, R01 DK49587, R01 DK073542, and R21 MH077290). No additional funding was received for the completion of this work. The authors have no conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise, that are relevant for this submitted work.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Megan Roehrig
    • 1
    Email author
  • Robin M. Masheb
    • 1
  • Marney A. White
    • 1
  • Bruce S. Rothschild
    • 2
  • Carolyn H. Burke-Martindale
    • 2
  • Carlos M. Grilo
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryYale University School of MedicineNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.Saint Francis Hospital and Medical CenterHartfordUSA
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyYale UniversityNew HavenUSA

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