Sunday, September 11th, 2011
Unfortunately teenage dieting is not just a phase that we can hope they will eventually grow out of. According to a study, unhealthy eating practices arising from eating disorders that are developed during the teenage years are more likely to persist into early adulthood and even further.
Project Eating and Activity in Teens and Young Adults (or Project EAT) is a 10-year study conducted by the University of Minnesota. Project EAT is the first study that kept track of eating and weight control behaviors, spanning from the teenage years to young adulthood. The purpose of the study is to look into eating and activity levels, as well as weight levels of teenagers. The study encompassed over 2,000 participants with 1,257 females and 1,030 males, with a third of the participants having a mean age of 12.8 years at the onset.
These participants were between 12 to 16 years old at the time the study began. And findings showed that unhealthy eating and weight control habits that these adolescents developed during their teens tend to persist into adulthood. These results underscore the importance of being able to prevent, identify and treat eating disorders during the teenage years.
- Approximately half of the female participants and one-fourth of the male participants stated that they were dieting within the past year at the start of the survey.
- Dieting habits in females remained somewhat constant from the teenage years to adulthood.
- Among females, unhealthy weight control habits (such as skipping of meals and the use of diet pills) also stayed steady into these participants’ young adulthood with a slight decrease during the middle adolescence. However, the prevalence of unhealthy dieting practices is still quite high (decreasing to 54.4% from 60.7%).
- As for males, dieting habits remained constant throughout the period with a considerable rise in dieting beginning from their mid-teens to middle young adulthood. Showing that males are more likely to start dieting when they reach their early to mid-20s.
- The prevalence of unhealthy dieting practices climbed from 2.1% to 7.3%, with binge eating rising from 3% to 5.9%.
Importance of Early Action
The lead author of the research, Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, emphasized the role of parents and responsible adults to diminish the occurrence of bad eating and dieting. Parents should be on the lookout for early warning signs and should also encourage their children to have a healthy body image. The study also shows the importance of getting help early for things such as anorexia treatment or bulimia treatment.
Some warning signs that often show that a teen may need eating disorder treatment include an excessive preoccupation with one’s weight and appearance, obsession about counting calories, going to the toilet after meals, avoidance of eating or lying about how much he or she has eaten and over-exercising.
Although we are aware of the fight against obesity in the United States we strongly encourage the right habits and methods of doing so should be promoted. Teens should be given the information about how unhealthy weight control methods and dieting actually have a negative effect.
Help for Eating Disorders
Concerned parents can get help for eating disorders through Avalon Hills. Avalon Hills eating disorder treatment center is committed to providing holistic treatment to help teens and adults triumph over eating disorders.
Avalon Hills aims to treat anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders by changing the way they see themselves, their bodies and their surroundings. This is done by helping them towards positive change through new information, new experiences and new insights. By developing a new mindset towards positive change, one is more resistant towards the negative influences that can sometimes cause the eating disorders.
Avalon Hills’ treatment program uses a combination of psychotherapy (both group and individual), animal assisted therapy, outdoor challenges, activities focused on self-expression, tackling body and food fears and more.