PROBLEM: Over a third of U.S. children are overweight or obese, the latter of which the American Medical Association now says is a disease. Meanwhile, anorexia is considered "the third most common chronic illness among adolescents." Given all that, to say that "parents may wonder whether talking with their adolescent child about eating habits and weight is useful or detrimental" is probably understatement.
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METHODOLOGY: Researchers at the University of Minnesota drew data from two surveys, one which looked at eating behavior in adolescents and another which evaluated aspects of their family environment that might contribute to this behavior. In all, they received responses from 2,793 public school students with an average age of 14, and from 3,709 parents and caregivers.
RESULTS: Dieting was most common in adolescents whose parents talked with them about their weight. This could be anything from just "having a conversation" about their size to mentioning that they should eat differently or exercise in order to lose or keep from gaining weight. However, disordered eating -- defined as taking unhealthy measures to control their weight (fasting, laxatives and diet pills, throwing up, etc) or binge eating -- was also highest among those same children.