Adolescents with unhealthy weight-control behaviors more likely to be overweight five years later

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Adolescents who diet and use unhealthy weight-control behaviors are more likely to be overweight and put themselves at risk for eating disorders in the future, according to new research done at the University of Minnesota.

A study published in the April issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that adolescents with unhealthy weight-control behaviors were three times more likely to be overweight five years later. In addition, adolescents using unhealthy weight-control behaviors were at an increased risk for out-of-control binge eating, self-induced vomiting, and the use of diet pills, laxatives, and diuretics.

"This study shows that a shift from dieting and drastic weight-control behaviors to long-term healthy eating and physical activity is necessary among adolescents," said Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Ph.D., study author and professor of epidemiology and community health at the University of Minnesota. "A change in lifestyle is needed to prevent obesity and eating disorders in this population."

Researchers conducted a longitudinal study of over 2,000 adolescents to determine risk for gains in BMI, overweight status, binge eating, extreme weight-control behaviors, and eating disorders after five years. Subjects completed two Project E.A.T. surveys in 1999 and 2004 to determine if those who reported dieting and different weight-control behaviors are at an increased risk for obesity and eating disorders.

Project E.A.T. was designed to investigate the factors influencing eating habits of adolescents, to determine if youth are meeting national dietary recommendations, and to explore dieting and physical activity patterns among youth. Through a greater understanding of the socioeconomic, personal, and behavioral factors associated with diet and weight-related behavior during adolescence, more effective nutrition interventions can be developed.

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