Moms Influence Teen Dieting, Weight
Parents' Best Bet: Be Healthy Role Models for Kids, Researchers Say
WebMD News Archive
Dec. 6, 2005 -- Teens may look aloof, but they quietly notice what their
mothers seem to think about their weight.
Their perceptions -- correct or not -- often affect adolescent interest in
dieting, according to a study in the Archives of Pediatrics &
The study shows that teens are more likely to want to be slimmer and to diet
frequently if they correctly believed that their mothers want them to be thin
The researchers who worked on the study include Alison Field, ScD, of
Harvard Medical School, Boston's Brigham & Women's Hospital, and Children's
Hospital in Boston.
Field and colleagues gave surveys to more than 9,000 girls and boys aged
11-18. The student's moms also took part.
The surveys covered body image and weight. Topics for adolescent girls
- How important is it to you to be thin?
- How often in the past year have you dieted to lose weight or not gain
- How much effort have you made in the last year to try to look like girls or
women on TV, in movies, or in magazines?
- How important is it to your mom that you be thin?
The boys' surveys were worded a bit differently. Their
questions focused on not being fat.
"Male subjects are more likely to be focused on wanting to
increase muscle tone rather than being thin," the researchers write.
Moms were asked how often in the past year they had wanted to
or tried to lose weight.
Many Young Dieters
Many adolescents -- especially girls -- expressed a desire to be
A third of the girls reported thinking frequently about wanting to be
thinner. So did 8% of the boys.
Nearly one in 10 girls (8%) had dieted frequently in the previous year.
Frequent dieting was defined as dieting every day or two to six times
Girls were also more likely to diet if their moms had done so in the past
year, the study shows.