Teens with eating and food issues, such as binge eating and anorexia, may be at higher risk of carrying these behaviors into adulthood, according to a new study. “The findings from the current study argue for early and ongoing efforts aimed at the prevention, early identification, and treatment of disordered eating behaviors in young people,” said Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Ph.D., MPH, RD, professor at the School of Public Health, University of Minnesota and lead author of the study. The researchers looked at the dieting habits of over 2,000 men and women, ranging in age from 13 to 16, for a period of ten years. The participants were all in their middle to early twenties at the conclusion of the study.
At the end of the study, nearly half of the women and one quarter of the men reported that they had dieted within the past twelve months. Although there were variances in consistency of dieting, there was one common result in both men and women. Extreme dieting behaviors rose dramatically as the participants aged. The number of females using extreme weight control behaviors rose 12% as they aged, while the number of men increased by more than eight percent.
The study shows that extreme dieting and eating issues are not necessarily a temporary condition of adolescence. “Within clinical practices, dietitians and other health care providers should be asking about the use of these behaviors prior to adolescence, throughout adolescence, and into young adulthood,” said the researchers. “Given the growing concern about obesity, it is important to let young people know that dieting and disordered eating behaviors can be counterproductive to weight management. Young people concerned about their weight should be provided with support for healthful eating and physical activity behaviors that can be implemented on a long-term basis, and should be steered away from the use of unhealthy weight control practices.”
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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