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Attitude May Be Key to Overweight Girls' Risk of Depression

Unhappiness, unhealthy dieting less likely when girls were OK with their size, researchers found

FRIDAY, May 4, 2012 (HealthDay News) -- Overweight teen girls who are happy with their size and shape have higher levels of self-esteem, are less likely to be depressed and are less prone to unhealthy behaviors than those who don't like their bodies, researchers say.

For their study, University of California-San Diego researchers surveyed a group of more than 100 overweight teenagers between 2004 and 2006.

"We found that girls with high body satisfaction had a lower likelihood of unhealthy weight-control behaviors like fasting, skipping meals or vomiting," Kerri Boutelle, an associate professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the UCSD School of Medicine, said in a university news release.

The positive link between a teen girl's happiness with her body size and shape and her mental and behavioral well-being suggests that improving body satisfaction could be an important part of interventions for overweight youth, she added.

A focus on enhancing self-image while providing motivation and skills to affect weight-control behaviors may help protect young girls from feelings of depression, anxiety or anger associated with being overweight, Boutelle said.

The study is scheduled to be published in the June issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about teens' body image and self-esteem.

SOURCE: University of California-San Diego, Health Sciences, news release, May 3 2012
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