Weight-Loss Articles Linked to Unhealthy Eating Behaviors

Adolescent girls appear to be most susceptible

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Adolescent girls who frequently read dieting articles in magazines are more likely to engage in unhealthy weight-control behaviors such as skipping meals, vomiting or using laxatives, according to a study in the January issue of Pediatrics.

Patricia van den Berg, Ph.D., of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and colleagues surveyed 2,516 teens in 1999, and again in 2004, to compare how often they read magazine articles about dieting/weight-loss with weight-control behaviors and psychological outcomes.

The female adolescents who read the greatest number of such articles were twice as likely to engage in unhealthy weight-control behaviors such as fasting, skipping meals and smoking more cigarettes when compared with their counterparts who did not read articles on diet and weight-loss. High-frequency female readers were also three times as likely to use extreme weight-control behaviors including vomiting and using laxatives compared with adolescent girls who did not read dieting articles. Frequent reading of magazine articles did not predict unhealthy behaviors in males, the report indicates.

"Findings from this study, in conjunction with findings from previous studies, suggest a need for interventions aimed at reducing exposure to, and the importance placed on, media messages regarding dieting and weight loss," the study authors conclude.

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