Quest for ideal weight: costs and consequences. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 31, No. 8, pp. 1135-1140, 1999. The quest to achieve the ideal weight comes with notable costs. Dieting carries the financial costs of professional consulting, low-calorie foods, books and materials, and diet programming. Club memberships, clothing, equipment, and time all contribute to the cost of exercise. Cosmetic surgery to achieve the desired physique carries a significant financial, and sometimes psychological, burden. Women often pursue thinner bodies despite already being at a healthy weight. This pursuit is motivated primarily to enhance appearance. The ideal body portrayed in the media has stabilized in thinness, but it is becoming increasingly tubular, i.e., taller with slimmer hips and thicker waist. This ideal is presented to adult and adolescent women in their popular magazines, and to little girls with their dolls. Exercise is promoted as an optimal means to achieve the ideal physique. Young American women tend to idealize an athletic body shape, especially with upper-body muscularity. This shape can be attained only through sustained exercise and upper-body strength training. High-level exercise may be a precursor to eating disorders. Women who exercise to excess, who are highly preoccupied with weight, and who are characterized by perfectionism and an obsessive compulsive personality are at risk for eating disorders. When body weight and shape are kept in perspective and realistic goals are set, the physical, psychological, and financial costs of achieving or maintaining a healthy weight may be minimized.