Report shows high risk to diet-fad girls

TEENAGE GIRLS who follow strict diets are 18 times more likely to develop an eating disorder than those who eat whatever they like. Even those girls who diet moderately are at five times the risk, according to researchers who studied 2,000 male and female students aged 14 and 15 over three years.

The findings, published in the British Medical Journal, suggest that exercise is the safest way for teenagers to control their weight. This is confirmed by a second study, published yesterday in the United States journal Archives of Paediatrics, showing that television is linked with the growth of obesity among American teen- agers.

The US study of 1,300 students showed that a school-based program which aimed to cut down television viewing to less than two hours a day increased activity among the students and reduced their exposure to commercials for sweets and junk food. Over two years, obesity fell among the girls who went to schools involved in the programme (from 23.6 per cent to 20.3 per cent) and rose among those at control schools where it did not run (from 21.5 to 23.7 per cent). Among boys there was little change.

The BMJ study, conducted in Australia, found that 8 per cent of the girls had followed strict diets and a further 60 per cent had dieted at a moderate level. Over one year the strict dieters had an almost one in five chance of developing an eating disorder, while the moderate dieters had a one in forty chance. Boys were at much lower risk.

Psychiatric problems were also found to be strongly associated with the development of eating disorders, raising the risk almost sevenfold.

Professor George Patton and his colleagues, from the University of Melbourne, say that it is possible that the link between strict dieting and eating disorders exists because in those who start severe dieting a process leading to the development of an eating disorder has already begun. However, they conclude: "In adolescent weight control, promotion of exercise rather than restriction of dietary intake may prove less of a risk in the development of eating disorders."

The authors say previous research had suggested that taking part in sports, especially those that required thinness such as gymnastics, might increase the risk of eating disorders. However, they found that daily participation in sports did not raise the risks above those already associated with dieting.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Recruitment Genius: PA

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A PA is required to join a leading provider of...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness