Carrying unhealthy behaviors into adulthood
Adolescents who engage in dieting and extreme weight control behaviors are at increased risk for continuing their use during young adulthood, a recent Project EAT study shows.
These findings suggest that disordered eating behaviors are not just a “passing phase,” says Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, head of Project EAT (Eating Among Teens and Young Adults) and a professor of epidemiology. In the late 1990s, the project surveyed a wide range of boys and girls about their dietary and physical activity habits. Ten years later, a study led by Neumark-Sztainer looked at the current behaviors of about 2,300 of them, divided by gender and by age.
Although the prevalence of certain activities varied slightly in these groups, extreme weight control behaviors, including the use of diet pills, laxatives, and self-induced vomiting, increased for all age groups and for both males and females.
“Dieting, unhealthy weight control behaviors, and binge eating increase risks for both eating disorders and obesity,” says Neumark- Sztainer. She advises that interventions aimed at preventing disordered eating begin early and continue into young adulthood.