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Women Who Diet From A Young Age More Likely To Suffer From Obesity And Alcohol Abuse

Posted in Personal Health 06 Aug, 2014

People, mainly parents and teachers, often tell children to follow dietary habits from a young age. It’s their responsibility to educate children about healthy eating habits. By modelling these behaviours, they want to help kids maintain a healthy weight. What does all of this advice lead to?

While many of these children go onto live healthy lifestyles, a recent study conducted by Florida State University found that dieting from a young age can leave women at risk of obesity and eating disorders in the future. The university followed 1,340 students for 10 years and found that…

  • Some of these women who began dieting as early as aged 3 were more likely to drink excessively and practice induced vomiting.
  • Those who started dieting at a very young age were more susceptible to cultural pressures about staying thin.
  • Others were also more likely to become obese by the time they reached 30.
  • A large number of these women began following a strict calorie-controlled routine in their mid 20’s.

Long-term dangers of early dieting

Leading the team of researchers, Pamela Keel, a psychology professor, noted: “it isn’t yet clear why young dieters suffer from long-term health problems. One potential reason was ‘there’s already something distinctive’ about these women in regards to their genetic make-up and social environment.”

Dieting from an early age can stay with a woman long into her adulthood. This increases the risk of her resorting to extreme eating or avoiding certain foods altogether. That being said, Keel does suggest that healthy eating behaviours should be encouraged in young girls to prevent negative body image stereotypes.

Why do girls diet so young?

In an age where body image is given lots of media attention, many children as young as 7 and 8 bemoan their chubby thighs and bellies. As research suggests, nearly half of boys and girls in primary school desire a thinner body and many have already dieted to achieve these results. In some cases, they want to look like their media or sporting role models, but often, they’re spurred by mocking at school or by parents who implement weight-awareness programmes.

In the UK, over half of teenage girls are trying to manage their weight in extreme fashion, from suppressing their appetite with cigarettes to taking laxatives. To help their children, concerned parents are being told to apply more holistic approaches than dieting, such as encouraging more exercise, cutting down screen time and adding higher portions of fruit and veg on the plate at meal times.

Universally, there has always been more pressure on girls to have leaner bodies. But when they are counting calories before they have any idea what a calorie is, it’s time to sit them down and explain the adverse dangers of unhealthy eating.


  • Sam P.Monday, Aug 11, 2014

    Can't believe anyone makes their kids diet at 3 years old. children these days have such an unhealthy relationship with food. Sugary unhealthy snacks are marketed to them at every opportunity and then magazine etc tell them they need to be thin. It's the job of parents to teach their kids the right things to eat, everything in moderation.

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