Monday, July 26, 2010

Teenage dieting and eating disorders

Dieting is widely recognised as a risk factor for eating disorders in adolescence. However, not all dieters develop an eating disorder so why do some teenagers trying to lose weight develop problems while others don't? A team of Finnish researchers studied 81 adolescent dieters with an average age of 15 to find out. They found that the children could be divided into four groups. Some dieted for vanity - to achieve what they thought was a desirable body weight. These children dieted by leaving out high-fat foods and sweets. Some children were genuinely overweight and dieted for health reasons and also had a sensible approach to dieting and exercise. However, other children dieted either because they were depressed and thought that losing weight would improve their mood or because they had a feeling that they were fat even though their weight was normal. These children were much more likely to try and lose weight unhealthily by skipping meals, eating very little and exercising intensely and were fifteen times more likely to develop an eating disorder.

Rasmus, Isomaa ... [et al] - Psychological distress and risk for eating disorders in subgroups of dieters European Eating Disorders Review July/August 2010, 18(4), 296-303

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