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Careful, parents: teen body image predicts adult obesity


If you're concerned about your teen's weight, you might want to refrain from saying so.

A new study found that body image perceptions that people have in their teen years can play a large role in how healthy they are later in life - and can predict whether or not an individual will battle adult obesity.

The study

The 10-year research project followed teens into adulthood, assessing things like body satisfaction, eating habits and peer status. Researchers found that the less satisfied people were with their bodies as adolescents, the higher their chances were of becoming obese in later years.

The study included data on 2,134 young people, collected first at age 15 and then 10 years later at age 25. At the beginning of the study, 25.1 percent of females and 25.9 percent of males were considered overweight. After 10 years, the numbers had increased to 47.5 and 56.1 percent, respectively.


Even adolescents who had not been overweight at the beginning of the study gained significant weight as a result of poor body image during teen years. Among participants who had not been obese as teens, 34.2 percent of the women and 45.4 percent of the men had become overweight 10 years later.

Other factors like weight-related teasing, disordered eating habits, and poor food choices also led to a higher obesity risk.

Study author Virginia Quick, PhD, of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Health and Human Development in Bethesda, MD, elaborates:

Among females and males, higher levels of body dissatisfaction, weight concerns, unhealthy weight control behaviors, dieting, binge eating, weight-related teasing, and parental weight-related concerns and behaviors during adolescence, and/or increases in these factors over the 10-year study period predicted the incidence of overweight.

The study was published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.

Source: Diabetes Health