Pressure to stay thin while growing up has been significant for many years, as the fashion and beauty industries project images of notably thin women and other media portrayals of beauty suggest that a wraith-like appearance is most desirable. But as waistlines across the country have been steadily increasing, the pressure to keep weight away is doubtless becoming even greater as girls are warned by parents and doctors about the health issues associated with obesity. Taking a mental health-based approach may be a more positive way to teach girls about healthy eating habits, a study recently produced by the National Institutes of Health suggests.
Though the study worked with a group of less than 40 participants, girls were split among those who received interpersonal therapy sessions and those who were given basic health educational courses. While all of the participants showed positive results in terms of weight loss, those who had been involved in the interpersonal therapy groups exhibited a higher success rate. During these therapy sessions, which were held over the course of a year while eating habits were recorded, the girls were encouraged to examine their relationships and how various social and other influences had an effect on their desire to eat.
As mental health concerns and fluctuations in weight are sometimes closely linked, this type of therapy may hold substantial promise for young people struggling to understand health and self-image in a media-driven environment. Through establishing a positive exploration and understanding of the self as well as providing support for potential binge eating and other undesirable behaviors, interpersonal therapy for obesity prevention may improve the lives of adolescent girls both inside and out.
© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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