A nationwide survey of middle-aged women is painting a bleak picture of how they control weight gain.
Some of the things they are doing include too much dieting by the underweight, not enough by the overweight, excessive exercise and limiting food though smoking to suppress appetite.
The study published in the New Zealand Medical Journal on Friday is the first of its kind. Otago University's Professor of Human Nutrition Jim Mann says it shows the dieting practices of New Zealand women are a mess.
The report found that the majority of women use weight loss practices consistent with public health messages, including cutting down on meal sizes, fats and sugars.
However, it noted concerns about the number of women reporting smoking or exercising in a driven or compulsive way as a weight loss method.
It also found that 18.5% of underweight women were trying to lose weight.