Yo-yo dieting is a common phenomenon yet little interdisciplinary research has been carried out on dieting, food and nutrition in the social context. This study investigated the effects of yo-yo dieting on social and psychological well-being using qualitative methods. Data were collected by conducting semi-structured interviews with women who yo-yo diet. A total of 9 participants, 20-51 years old, were recruited by purposive and snowball sampling techniques from the University of Roehampton, London, U.K., where the first author was a student at the time of the study. Thematic analysis derived four major themes: the physical and/or mental impact of yo-yo dieting, the similarity of reported symptoms with those associated with eating disorders, familial and sociocultural pressure for initiating diets and the struggle for control and/or identity. Furthermore, there appears to be a link between yo-yo dieting and interviewees’ references to depressive mood episodes. The implications of these findings for the risks of developing eating disorders are discussed.


The authors would like to make the following correction to the article “At War with Their Bodies or At War with Their Minds? A Glimpse into the Lives and Minds of Female Yo-Yo Dieters – The Curtain has Lifted in U.K.?” in order to more fully reflect a specific participant’s experiences of eating habits: “There have been influences in her life, and within interactions with her mother which may have shaped how she later comes to engage in eating habits.”

Author Biography

Huda Qazi received her MSc degree in Clinical Nutrition from the University of Roehampton, London, U.K. Her research interests include examining and investigating the impact of weight fluctuations on physical and mental health; how lifestyle choices affect nutritional status and health; and exploring and analyzing the factors behind the development and maintenance of eating disorders and disordered eating behaviors. This article is adapted from her postgraduate dissertation ‘Trapped Within A Cycle? An-In-Depth Exploration of the Experiences of Weight Cyclers’.

Harshad Keval is a senior lecturer in Sociology at Canterbury Christ Church University, Kent, U.K. since 2010. Previously he worked at the University of Roehampton, London, U.K. as a senior lecturer in medical Sociology, as a research fellow in the Department of Sociology at the University of Surrey, and internationally in research related to culture, health and ethnicity in global contexts. His research interests lie mainly in race and ethnicity, health and illness and qualitative methodology.