Teenage Dieting Literature Review

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Neumark-Sztainer and colleagues (1997; 1998) defined dieting as an intentional, often temporary, change in eating to achieve weight loss. Dieting can be done in a healthy way like increasing fruit, vegetable and whole grain intake, moderate reduction in fat intake and increased exercise or it can be achieved through unhealthy methods which include self-induced vomiting (Jones et al, 2001), diet pills, skipping meals and use of laxatives (Neumark-Sztainer et al, 2002). The frequency of unhealthy diet methods in adolescents was highlighted by a number of studies (Patton et al, 1997; Boutelle et al, 2002; Neumark-Sztainer et al, 2002). These included fasting, skipping meals and crash diets in 22%-46%, self-induced emesis in 5%-12%, use of laxatives and diuretics in 1%-4%, use of diet pills in 35-10% and smoking cigarettes in 12%-18% of adolescent girls.
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A number of studies have shown that young children are dieting and are not satisfied with their bodies. Collins (1991) found that 24% of 1st - 3rd-grade girls want to be thinner while Mellin and colleagues (1991) found that 81% of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat and that 51% of 9-10-year-old girls feel better about themselves if they are on a diet. A review by Zeilinger (2015) highlighted that 1 in 4 children has engaged in some type of dieting behavior be age 7 and that 80% of 10-year-old American girls have been on a diet. According to this review, more than half of girls and approximately one-third of boys aged 6-8 years indicated their ideal bodies are thinner than their current bodies. The Keep It Real campaign (2012) which aims to improve body image issues in young adults, found that 53% of 13-year-old girls have issues with how their bodies look and this increases to 78% which girls turn 17. According NEDA (2009) between 40% and 60% of children aged between 6 and 12 years are worried about their weight and 70% would like to slim

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