TORONTO: While looking slim is in fashion amongst teenage girls, intentional weight loss might increase the risk of developing health-compromising behaviour. Researchers warn that these include smoking, binge drinking and skipping breakfast.
Teenage dieters were 1.6 times more likely to smoke and skip breakfast and 1.5 times more likely to smoke and engage in binge drinking than those who were not dieting.
Lead author from University of Waterloo, Amanda Raffoul said, “Post-puberty changes often lead to weight gain among girls and there is incredible pressure from social media to obtain and maintain the ideal body.”
She added that intentional weight loss is not something we should necessarily encourage, especially among this population. “It’s highly likely that well-meaning initiatives that promote dieting may be doing more harm than good. Instead, we should focus on health broadly rather than just being aware of our weight,” explained the author.
The study, reported in the Canadian Journal of Public Health, included data from 3,300 high school girls. The results showed that compared to girls who were not dieting at the time of initial data collection, those who were dieting were more likely to engage in one or more clusters of other risky behaviour, three years later.
“The link between dieting and other health-compromising behaviours is worrisome since 70% of girls reported dieting at some point over the three years,” added Raffoul.
According to another professor from the university, Sharon Kirkpatrick, the study looks at the important health related factors “including behaviours and the array of influences on them, combined”.
Sharon concluded that one can identify the effective interventions and predict and monitor unintended effects only by understanding the complex ways in which these factors interact.
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