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Does fast weight loss promote eating disorders in obese women?


This project aims to determine whether very low energy diets (VLED) may contribute to the development of disordered eating in obese women.


Associate Professor Amanda Salis.

Research location

Camperdown - Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise & Eating Disorders

Program type



For many years health professionals have recommended ‘slow and steady' weight loss. Recently however an increasing number of health professionals have begun prescribing severely restrictive VLEDs for the management of excess body weight. VLEDs can induce fast weight losses of approximately 0.5 to 2 kilos per week, which some people find motivating. Moreover, some people report not feeling hungry while on a VLED.

While VLEDs clearly improve metabolic health in people who are obese, little is known about their potential psychological effects. Of concern is the fact that severe energy restriction in lean people is a known contributor to eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder. Whether or not the same effects of severe energy restriction also occur in obese people on VLED is currently unknown.

With funding from a project grant from the National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC), this project will demonstrate whether or not there are any differences between VLED and a less restrictive weight reducing diet with respect to effects on psychological parameters that are associated with eating disorders. Drawing on cutting-edge psychological and neuropsychological assessments, the results from this study will have important implications for the clinical management of obesity and the prevention of eating disorders.

Additional information

Benefits to the successful candidate
• As part of The Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise & Eating Disordersat the Charles Perkins Centre, you will be part of an internationally recognized multidisciplinary research environment dedicated to reducing obesity and associated complications
• You will be mentored for submission of a competitive application for an Australian Postgraduate Award or a University Postgraduate Award (APA/UPA). Further details
• You will receive mentoring to help you develop your career, with individual and group training on scientific writing, conference presentation skills etc
• You will have opportunities to present your research findings at local, national and potentially also at an international biomedical conference
• You will have opportunities to publish your research findings in world-class peer-reviewed biomedical journals of high standing

Selection criteria

• An undergraduate degree in science, medicine or other health discipline (e.g. exercise physiology, nutrition & dietetics, nursing, pharmacy, physiotherapy, psychology, biochemistry, physiology etc.)
• First class honours or equivalent (for PhD candidates)
• An excellent undergraduate academic record (for Masters and PhD candidates)
• Prospective PhD candidates must be eligible for a nationally competitive PhD scholarship, such as an Australian Postgraduate Award or a University Postgraduate Award (APA/UPA, for domestic students) or an equivalent award for international students. Further details.
• A strong commitment to health and medical research in the field of adult nutrition and lifestyle interventions, obesity, weight management and chronic disease prevention
• Exceptional communication skills that will enable you to engender support from participants volunteering for this randomised controlled trial
• Ability to work productively both within a team environment as well as independently as required
• Excellent organisational skills
• Reliability and punctuality

For further information
Please contact Associate Professor Amanda Salis

To apply
Please e-mail a cover letter addressing the above selection criteria, a copy of your CV as well as your academic transcript to Associate Professor Amanda Salis.

Want to find out more?

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 1584

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