Teens can think themselves fat: study

Teens can think themselves in to becoming obese adults.
Photo / Thinkstock
Teens can think themselves in to becoming obese adults. Photo / Thinkstock

Healthy-sized teenagers who think they're fat may end up becoming obese in later life, a study reveals.

The pressure to be thin and negativity about being fat can lead to psychosocial stress, causing kids to turn to "comfort eating, reward eating, and emotional eating," researchers found.

"Adolescents seeing themselves as overweight may focus more on food and shift to unhealthy dietary behaviours resulting in weight gain," said Koenraad Cuypers a researcher at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

"Another explanation may be that young people who see themselves as fat often change their eating habits by skipping meals, for example. Research has shown that dropping breakfast can lead to obesity," Cuypers said.

Researches analysed data from 1196 healthy male and female teenagers for two years and followed them up about a decade later when the participants were between the ages of 24 and 30.

Nearly a quarter of the girls believed they were overweight at the beginning of the study, compared to nine per cent of boys, possibly because of media pressures to achieve an ideal, model-thin, body type, Medical Daily reported.

"Girls thus experience more psychosocial stress to achieve the ideal body," Cuypers said.

"The weight norms for society must be changed so that young people have a more realistic view of what is normal.

"In school you should talk to kids about what are normal body shapes, and show that all bodies are beautiful as they are.

"And, last but not least, the media must cease to emphasise the super model body as the perfect ideal, because it is not."

The study was published in the Journal of Obesity.


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