U of M study shows promoting self-weighing in teens is not helpful to weight management

December 05, 2006

Teenage girls who weigh themselves frequently are more likely to binge eat and participate in unhealthy weight control behaviors in the future, according to new research from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.

A study published in the December 2006 issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health found frequent self-weighing in teenage females did not help with better weight management and predicted increased rates of binge eating and other unhealthy weight control behaviors, such as skipping meals, smoking, taking diet pills, using laxatives, and vomiting.

"As a society, so much attention is given to weight and staying within a specific number range to maintain a healthy lifestyle," said Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., lead author and professor of epidemiology at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. "This study shows that encouraging teens to focus on weight as a number is not helpful, and in fact, could be harmful."

Researchers conducted a longitudinal study of more than 2,000 adolescents to examine changes in eating patterns and weight status over five years. Subjects completed two Project EAT: Eating Among Teens surveys - one in 1999 and one in 2004 - to determine if those who reported frequent self-weighing were at an increased risk for obesity and eating disorders.

The study found the average weight gain during a five-year period was nearly twice as high among teenage girls who reported weighing themselves frequently. Self-weighing also predicted increased rates of binge eating, smoking, vomiting, and skipping meals. This led researchers to conclude that strategies which focus on behavioral change, rather than weight, may be more helpful for teens.

"We should tread cautiously before recommending that teens weigh themselves frequently when trying to manage weight," said Neumark-Sztainer, who is also the author of the book, I'm, Like, So Fat!: Helping Your Teen Make Healthy Choices About Eating and Exercise in a Weight Obsessed World. "Self-weighing may be helpful to adults, but in adolescents it may not be the best option," she said.

Project EAT: Eating Among Teens was designed to investigate the factors influencing the eating habits of adolescents, to determine if youth are meeting national dietary recommendations, and to explore dieting and physical activity patterns among youth. The project strives to build a greater understanding of the socioeconomic, personal, and behavioral factors associated with diet and weight-related behavior during adolescence so more effective nutrition interventions can be developed.

This study was supported by the Maternal and Child Health Program, Health Resources and Services Administration, and the Department of Health and Human Services.
-end-


University of Minnesota

Related Public Health Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 and the decolonization of Indigenous public health
Indigenous self-determination, leadership and knowledge have helped protect Indigenous communities in Canada during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and these principles should be incorporated into public health in future, argue the authors of a commentary in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) http://www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.200852.

Public health consequences of policing homelessness
In a new study examining homelessness, researchers find that policy such a lifestyle has massive public health implications, making sleeping on the street even MORE unhealthy.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic likely to cause long-term health problems, Yale School of Public Health finds
The coronavirus pandemic's life-altering effects are likely to result in lasting physical and mental health consequences for many people--particularly those from vulnerable populations--a new study led by the Yale School of Public Health finds.

The Lancet Public Health: US modelling study estimates impact of school closures for COVID-19 on US health-care workforce and associated mortality
US policymakers considering physical distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 face a difficult trade-off between closing schools to reduce transmission and new cases, and potential health-care worker absenteeism due to additional childcare needs that could ultimately increase mortality from COVID-19, according to new modelling research published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Access to identification documents reflecting gender identity may improve trans mental health
Results from a survey of over 20,000 American trans adults suggest that having access to identification documents which reflect their identified gender helps to improve their mental health and may reduce suicidal thoughts, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Study estimates mental health impact of welfare reform, Universal Credit, in Great Britain
The 2013 Universal Credit welfare reform appears to have led to an increase in the prevalence of psychological distress among unemployed recipients, according to a nationally representative study following more than 52,000 working-age individuals from England, Wales, and Scotland over nine years between 2009-2018, published as part of an issue of The Lancet Public Health journal on income and health.

BU researchers: Pornography is not a 'public health crisis'
Researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) have written an editorial in the American Journal of Public Health special February issue arguing against the claim that pornography is a public health crisis, and explaining why such a claim actually endangers the health of the public.

The Lancet Public Health: Ageism linked to poorer health in older people in England
Ageism may be linked with poorer health in older people in England, according to an observational study of over 7,500 people aged over 50 published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

Study: Public transportation use linked to better public health
Promoting robust public transportation systems may come with a bonus for public health -- lower obesity rates.

Read More: Public Health News and Public Health Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.