In It For Health

Where health and psychology intersect

Archive for January 4th, 2007

reading isn’t always good for your health

Posted by Dr. Susan on January 4, 2007

A brand new study has discoverd that when middle and high school girls read too many magazine articles about dieting and weight loss they are more likely to develop unhealthy ways of trying to control their weight–like skipping meals, smoking, fasting– as they get older. What’s more, eating disordered behavior like throwing up and taking laxatives is also much higher in girls who read the most magazine articles compared to those who don’t read them at all!! What does this study tell you?? It tells me that kids and teens are allowing the media (magazines in this case, but also TV, movies, internet) to have too much influence over the way they feel about their bodies!

So, what can kids and parents do? First remember that magazine articles are written to sell magazines, so the promises that diets and weight loss articles (and the accompanying pictures) offer, tempt you to choose one magazine over another–but they may not be possible to achieve. This is a great discussion for parents to have with kids as well.

In addition, the diets and weight loss plans for adults are often not well balanced enough for teens. Therefore, parents should be cautioned to bring as few women’s magazines into your home as possible during the preteen and teen years and strongly dissuade your child from reading and buying these magazines. When it comes to dieting and weight loss articles, the magazines that cater specifically to teens, are far better than the women’s magazine’s that many teens often read.

Keeping the lines of communication open, and keeping your eyes and ears open is also important. If you even suspect an eating disorder, seek immediate professional help because early intervention is critical. February is Eating Disorder Awareness Month.

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