According to the results of a recent survey, more than one third of teenage girls in the UK are at risk harming their development by dieting. The results show that 37% of girls aged 13-18 admit to eating less than 1200 calories a day in an attempt to lose weight, this is a shocking 40% less than what they actually need!
Of the boys who were questioned, fewer admitted to dieting, with one in seven saying they had tried to lose weight in the past. However, one in four of the boys who did diet reported eating less than 800 calories a day.
When asked what makes up a healthy diet, 98% of teenagers thought they had a good knowledge of healthy eating guidelines, with 76% saying they considered their diet to be healthy. However, 85% of teenagers failed to eat their recommended intake of fruit and vegetables.
Nutritionist Charlotte Parker said, “When this is combined with the issue of childhood obesity in the UK, it is clear we need to help both teenagers and their families to achieve a healthy balanced lifestyle.”
Grace Coia, who runs the Centre for Eating Disorders (Scotland), believes even toddlers in high chairs watch their mums trying to lose weight, which can affect their attitude towards food. Grace fully believes that if parents lead by example, fostering a sensible attitude towards eating, it can prevent problems from getting worse.
So, what can you do to help your child develop healthy eating habits?
- At all costs avoid talking negatively about your own body shape, as this will give the wrong message to your kids.
- Model good eating behaviour: eat well, show a healthy attitude toward food, lead an active lifestyle – leading by example can have a huge impact!
- Encourage them to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, emphasising that skipping meals doesn’t help with weight loss, and can in fact cause the body to hang onto fat.
- Encourage your children to choose an activity they enjoy to participate in each week, such as netball, football, or hockey etc.
- Teach them that eating ‘healthy’ doesn’t mean giving up their favourite foods altogether.
- Teach them about portion size.
- Keep the lines of communication open so that they feel free to talk with you about their concerns.
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