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MedWorld: Feature

Work & Motion
Dieting Makes You Dopey

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By Paul Wheeler

October 23, 1995


Researchers in London have found that dieting makes you dopey.

The Institute of Food Research in England studied 350 volunteers and assessed mental performance in areas such as memory, reaction speed, and processing capacity. Those on diets performed significantly worse on these tests than those not on diets. They were more forgetful and less vigilent. In fact, the mental capabilities of the dieters were roughly equal to that of people who had just drank the equivalent of two drinks. In addition, those dieters who reported not losing any weight had the worst performance.

Interestingly, this finding has nothing to do with lack of energy or poor nutrition; instead, the cause is the psychological stress of dieting.

The main problem is that dieters suffer from something similar to anxiety. People who are constantly thinking about food and worrying about diet just don't have enough mental processing capacity left to properly deal with other matters. As a result they are often distracted from their work. Now if you're starting to get worried, don't, because the dips in mental performance probably aren't large enough to cause any true harm like losing your job.

So, what's the bottom line? The researchers say that diets make you stressed, so don't do them -- they don't work anyways.







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