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Teenage Girls Gain Weight When They Eat Too Few Calories.

Posted Aug 23 2008 3:21pm
Many teenage girls are not getting the nutrients they need to ensure healthy development, putting them at risk for weight-related problems and cardiovascular disease reported Reuters Health .

Studies have shown that on average, teenage girls are not getting enough fiber, calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium or vitamins A, E and B in their diets, and are eating too much saturated fat and sodium, said Andy Bellatti, who is a graduate student in New York University’s Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health.

The study revealed that more than 60 percent of teenage girls had resorted to diet pills, laxatives, vomiting or skipping meals to control their weight, and girls who employ these extreme diet methods are also more likely to be overweight.

"A lot of girls believe that the way to lose weight is to cut calories,” Bellatti said. Ironically, a pattern of crash dieting or extreme calorie restriction will eventually affect metabolism and could lead to weight gain in the future, Andy Bellatti said.

Teenage girls between the ages of 14 to 18 should eat between 2,200 and 2,400 calories a day, Bellatti said, something that a lot of popular diets don’t provide. "If you are overweight as a teenager, it's one thing to cut your calories,” he said. “But to be at a healthy weight at this age, it's really important to get all the nutrients you need. If you're eating 1,200 or 1,400 calories a day, that's really hard to do."

"We're living in a time when people are just not eating enough omega 3s, and we just say to everybody 'limit your fat',” Bellatti said. “What that really means is to limit your saturated or trans fat."

It’s important to promote healthy food and exercise choices in teenagers without placing an undue emphasis on diet, or making them feel like unhealthy choices are bad or lazy, Bellatti said. "A lot of times people are doing things based on wrong information," he pointed out. They may be intending to make healthy decisions and not aware that they’re doing the opposite. "Let them know, first of all, that they have choices."

Full article: Reuters Health

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