Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

Want to encourage your teen to go on a diet? Think again

Posted July 21, 2018 9:19 a.m. EDT

Dr. Allen Mask, the WRAL Health Team physician, had a really interesting story about teens and dieting.

While it may seem like common sense for a teen to start dieting if they're struggling with their weight, a recent study finds that encouraging them to diet may have the opposite result in the long run, according to the story.

"In a study published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers wanted to know the long term effects of a 'diet mind set' in teens," Dr. Mask writes.

"They followed teenagers who had been encouraged to diet 15 years later and found that they were more likely to be overweight -- to be dieting, to be binge-eating and have lower body satisfaction," said Dr. Susan Albers, a psychologist.

"Many experts now believe that 'dieting' can persuade teens to develop a negative relationship with food," Dr. Mask's story says.

The better tactic is to focus on "mindful" eating where the focus is on "how you eat" and not "what you eat," the story says.

Dr. Mask's story has more information about how we can help our kids. The results of the study ring true to me. It's something I've been practicing with my own kids.

We talk about how food is fuel that makes our bodies work and that it's important to make sure we're filling our bodies up with healthy fuel, not unhealthy fuel. At the table, we talk about slowing down to enjoy the food and conversation. And I also rarely buy junk food. When we're hungry, there usually are only healthy options to choose from.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has some more practical tips for helping kids develop healthy eating habits.