The fear of gaining weight. Six in ten 13 year old girls are afraid of gaining weight or getting fat. Four in ten boys feel the same way. Using data from over 7,000 participants in the Children of the 90s study at the University of Bristol, researchers showed that girls were more than twice as likely to be “extremely worried” about gaining weight although it is a concern that weighs heavily on the minds of all teens.
Girls more than boys, but both unreasonably concerned
The study found that:
- 34% of girls and 21% of boys were distressed about weight or body shape
- 53% of girls and 41% of boys avoided high fat foods
- 26% of girls and 15% of boys restricted food intake in the prior three months
- 27% of girls and 23% of boys exercised to lose weight
- Using laxatives and self-induced vomiting were rare for both sexes
- Fascinating: girls and boys who were worried about their weight and engaged in unhealthy weight-control strategies had a 40% increased risk of being overweight and 90% higher odds of being obese at age 15
- Binging affected boys and girls equally and those who did binge had 50% increased odds of being overweight and a twofold increased chance of being obese at 15
Unhealthy eating disorders starting earlier than believed
“We have found that behaviors typical of an eating disorder are more common in early adolescence than previously thought, and not just in girls but also in boys, and that they are associated with a range of social and psychological problems in the child. Most importantly, we found a connection with certain behaviors and higher weight two years later, which has important public health implications for the prevention of obesity. We are far from being able to identify boys and girls who have unhealthy weight control behaviors and binge-eating early, but this is crucial to prevent full-blown eating disorder and other negative social and emotional problems,” said Dr. Nadia Micali, an NIHR clinician scientist.
Source: MedicalNewsToday, National Institute for Health Research