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Teenage Dieting Causes Obesity and Eating Problems Later in Life

By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD

New research published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association has revealed that teenagers who diet or take unhealthy measures to control their weight are more likely to end up overweight as adults.

The research studied more than 2,500 teenagers and found that those who tried to control their weight were three times more likely to be overweight five years later than those who weren’t dieting. Furthermore, dieting teenagers were also at an increased risk of binge eating five years on – and were also more likely to try and control their weight by using extreme and unhealthy means such as vomiting or taking diet pills, laxatives and diuretics.

The authors suggest that teenagers should be discouraged from dieting and taking drastic measures to control their weight and instead should be encouraged to eat a healthy diet and be more physically active in the long term.

WLR says:

While the incidence of overweight and obesity during childhood continues to grow in the UK, it’s also true that eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are on the increase. This indicates how important it is to help children and teenagers develop a healthy relationship with food from an early age.

As well as providing children and teenagers with healthy meals and snacks, talk to them about the importance of eating a healthy diet that’s packed with a variety of nutrients. However, bear in mind that most teenagers aren’t worried about their future health in the same way that we are as adults. Instead, tap into the key areas that affect your children now and explain how eating well will benefit them.

For example, a good diet will…

  • give teenager girls glowing skin, shiny hair and strong nails  
  • give teenagers white, bright teeth so they have a Hollywood smile  
  • help teenagers control their weight so they stay slim and fit  
  • help teenage boys develop strong, defined muscles  
  • give children more energy to play and teenagers more energy to go shopping, dancing or simply hang out with their mates  
  • prevent tiredness so children and teenagers will be more likely to perform better in their favourite subjects at school  
  • give children more energy so they perform well in their favourite sports and maybe even make the school team.

It’s also important to remember that healthy eating guidelines apply to children from the age of five right through to old age. This means from the age of five onwards, children should be encouraged to have a low-fat, high fibre diet with five daily servings of fruit and veg.

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