“On a diet, you can’t eat.” That is what one 5- year-old girl had to say in a study on girls’ ideas about dieting. This and other research has shown that daughters are more likely to have ideas about dieting when their mothers diet.
Children pick up on comments about dieting concepts that may seem harmless, such as limiting high-fat foods or eating less. Yet, as girls enter their teen years, having ideas about dieting can lead to problems.
- Having mothers concerned about their own weight
- Having mothers who are overly concerned about their daughters’ weight and looks
- Natural weight gain and other body changes during puberty
- Peer pressure to look a certain way
- Struggles with self-esteem
- Media images showing the ideal female body as thin
Many teenage girls of average weight think they are overweight and are not satisfied with their bodies. Having extreme weight concerns — and acting on those concerns — can harm girls’ social, physical, and emotional growth. Actions such as skipping meals or taking diet pills can lead to poor nutrition and difficulty learning.