Dieting Teens Become Dieting Adults, Study Shows

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Concerned your teens' dieting and body image issues could be more than just a passing chapter in their lives? There may be reason for worry.

A new study finds dieting and unhealthy weight loss is often carried on into the adult years, the Los Angeles Times reports.

According to the study, published in the July issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, researchers looked at 1,030 teen boys and 1,257 teen girls over 10 years -- from about ages 15 to 25, and found half the girls and a quarter of the boys reported dieting in the past year, the newspaper says.

The numbers for girls remained pretty much the same, but older boys said they dieted more as they became adults, the Times reports.

Unhealthy, extreme weight loss methods, such as fasting, smoking, using diet pills or laxatives or throwing up rose in girls, from 8.4 percent in early adolescence to 20.6 percent in middle young adulthood, according to the newspaper, and older teen boys also increased in unhealthy weight loss behavior, from 2.1 percent in mid-adolescence to 7.3 percent in middle young adulthood.

"Within clinical practices, dietitians and other health care providers should be asking about the use of these behaviors prior to adolescence, throughout adolescence and into young adulthood," Dianne Neumark-Sztainer of the University of Minnesota and the study's lead author says in a news release. "Given the growing concern about obesity, it is important to let young people know that dieting and disordered eating behaviors can be counterproductive to weight management. Young people concerned about their weight should be provided with support for healthful eating and physical activity behaviors that can be implemented on a long-term basis, and should be steered away from the use of unhealthy weight control practices."

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.