Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Stop Reading Diet Articles


Want to lose weight? Well, then one thing you absolultely should NOT do is read articles about diet and weight loss. This is according to a new study from the University of Minnesota.

Huh? That doesn't make sense. Well, I did leave something out. This study talked about teenage girls reading about dieting and weight loss in magazine articles. To me, this is kind of the first step before going to the pro-ana and pro-mia sites which I have talked about before.

The AP article describes some of the results of the Univ of Minn. study:
It didn't seem to matter whether the girls were overweight when they started reading about weight loss, nor whether they considered their weight important. After taking those factors into account, researchers still found reading articles about dieting predicted later unhealthy weight loss behavior.

Girls in middle school who read dieting articles were twice as likely five years later to try to lose weight by fasting or smoking cigarettes, compared to girls who never read such articles. They were three times more likely to use measures such as vomiting or taking laxatives, the study found.
I admit that I'm seeing this already in my office only a couple of days into the new year. Teenage girls asking about dietary tips. The study even points a finger at doctors offices...
"Doctors' waiting rooms are no place for magazines promoting diet and weight loss," [Co-author Patricia van den Berg] said, "in the same way you don't have materials promoting smoking in waiting rooms."
Usually, the most common complaint was have about our waiting room magazines is how old they are (meaning from 1-2 years ago). But, now I'll have to see what's out there. It's definitely a slippery slope. If I take out everything that is potentially objectionable to anyone, there will be no magazines left. Sheesh!

12 comments:

Lea said...

If the teenagers don't see the articles in the doctor's office, they'll see them the next place they go. We have to count on good doctors like you to give sound advice on healthy eating and safe ways to lose weight.

I vote for National Geographic in waiting areas. Although, I don't touch the magazines there....I'm a germaphobe.

Anonymous said...

Set up a terminal in the waiting room and let your patients read blogs?

But re: Lea's comment: Isn't the contention that any diet advice, good or bad, will be misused by teenagers? (I guess they see all such information as a demand that they lose weight, whether they need to or not.)

The story I heard about the same study also said teenage boys were completely unaffected by diet information.

I'd be interested in hearing why this might be the case.

Anonymous said...

I hate seeing some of the diet articles that are put in magazines these days. Especially the ones geared towards teenagers. Then again, diets don't work for me anyway. Just be sure to give good advice when you're asked. My doctors have never told me anything other than "Eat right and exercise."

Anonymous said...

Because boys tend to be more interested in building their bodies up (appearing big and muscular), not wasting them away into sticks with dieting. It's not the traditional fashion for boys.

But, boys are being increasingly influenced by the bogus fears being promoted in these publications about foods and "healthy" eating.

Anonymous said...

The one thing I've noticed about these magazine articles is their tendency to omit just how much time goes into losing weight. They make it seem so easy, glam, and FAST. That just isn't realistic. Pop culture and its information overload in general perpetuates a lot of the confusion when it comes to healthful living. And that applies to people of all ages.

Anonymous said...

as noted in other comments--the diets and the exercise machines advertised on tv do make it seem so easy and fast. people who've been programmed to expect overnight results will give up way too soon to see results.

another matter I think is relevent:
since all the media hype about how the US is gaining weight, the main thing I've noticed it seems is an
increase in weight gain by almost everyone I know or even simply see on the street.

or is that just me?

Anonymous said...

Hello Dr. A. I've just stumbled across your blog via "next blog" and like what I've read so far. I'll be checking back soon.

Anonymous said...

Two Crows, you are right! My husband and I have lost a lot of weight over the past year (a combined total of 111 pounds between the both of us!), and we have started to notice that we're getting smaller while people around us are getting bigger. It's especially sad when we notice more and more overweight and/or obese children everywhere we go. It's very disheartening to think of the health problems children will face if they continue to consume junk food and drink sugary beverages. They're saying many children under 10 are now showing signs of plaque build up on their arteries! Can you believe that!?

Moof said...

Dr. Anon ... um, I'm not sure how to break this to you ... but ...

... you've been MEME'D! >;o)

Anonymous said...

I have two daughters and I'm amazed how much info they come back with on dieting and body image at such young ages. I agree with Lea, the teens, and preteens, will see the stuff somewhere. Our job is to make that into teachable moments so they realize that it's just junk to sell magazines and not how they are supposed to look.

At least the latest group of Disney teen stars has more realistic body types.

Not the Skinny Chick said...

Since the nature of articles is that they provide a sort of synopsis of whatever's being written about, it's true (as was suggested by others,) that the reality of how hard the real work actually is can't possibly be conveyed in just a few pages.

The January 08 edition of People magazine has a piece about people who lost more than half their body's weight. It's inspiring to see all those before and after photos, but even better, they provide much more depth than is typical. Readers get to peek at conversations between those featured, insights into their varied methods, and a variety of other inspiring elements. I found it exceedingly encouraging. Then again, I'm not a teenager and therefore not within the demographic mentioned in the piece you first shared with us...

Dinah said...

You know, I just don't buy that reading articles about diet Causes kids to develop weight issues/eating disorders. Okay, I believe the overall societal pressure (which causes magazine editors to print such articles, but is everywhere and just can't be missed) causes or contributes to these problems in vulnerable individuals. I would guess that kids who care about their weight are the ones reading the articles, and maybe some of the stuff meshes in with the whole pressure-to-be-thin gook (that's a scientific term), but I don't buy that kids who don't care about their looks/weight/body image to begin with are reading these articles. Where would you get such a sample? It would be like polling those men who don't like sports but do subscribe to Sports Illustrated.
While we're there, I don't care, but for the guys in my family: GO RAVENS>!