Childhood obesity is on the rise - about 17 percent of North American kids are beyond overweight! At the same time, children and teens are inundated with glorified images of super-skinny women, from runway models with thigh gap (extoled on Tumblr pages) to Miley Cyrus. No wonder experts estimate that 60 percent of high-school girls, 80 percent of 10-year olds and 40 percent of 9-year-olds have dieted.
What's the result of this focus on restricted calorie intake? According to a new study of women 18-30, the younger a girl is when she starts dieting, the more likely she is to use extreme weight-control measures such as vomiting or taking diuretics. And by the time she turns 30, she's more likely to suffer from drug and alcohol abuse and, ironically, to be overweight!
So, if your pre-teen or teenage daughter is dieting, help her adopt habits that will give her a genuinely healthy body and a great body image.
-Help her discover activities she enjoys: joining a school sports team, walking for 45 minutes with you after dinner, doing a yoga video in her room.
-Shop for and cook fresh foods; banish anything with added sugars or syrups (including soda) and all grains that aren't 100 percent whole from your home. And don't count calories; focus on good nutrition.
-Limit social media: Hours spent on Facebook (or other social media) amplifies risk for developing a poor body image and an eating disorder.
-Don't be critical of your child's looks. Instead, make her feel more confident as she becomes healthier and happier.
© King Features Syndicate