Dieting Can Be Risky Business for Teens

The Meal Plan Map program promotes healthy eating, not restrictive dieting or trendy weight loss regimens.

Sure, it would be nice to snap your fingers and watch the extra weight vanish in a magical flash. But it’s not healthy to drop weight fast or to cut out food groups to pare pounds.

The best way to a healthier weight is to eat better foods in proper portions.

That brings us to some disturbing news about teen girls who diet. A recent newsletter from included a feature – Dieting Linked to Risky Behaviors in Teen Girls – that concluded, “Teenage girls who diet are more likely to act in ways inimical to good health, including smoking, binge drinking and skipping breakfast …”

The study published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health is hard to swallow for parents of a teen girl.

“It might seem natural for there to be a connection between dieting and behaviors such as smoking and skipping meals, but the explanation is not so clear for something like binge drinking,” said Amanda Raffoul, who led the study and is now a Ph.D. candidate in Public Health and Health Systems at the University of Waterloo in Canada. “Our findings suggest that dieting and other risky health behaviors may be related to common underlying factors, such as poor body image.

“The link between dieting and other health-compromising behaviors is worrisome since 70 percent of girls reported dieting at some point over the three years. Post-puberty changes often lead to weight gain among girls and there is incredible pressure from social media and elsewhere to obtain and maintain the ideal body.”

The study found teenage dieters were 1.6 times more likely to smoke and skip breakfast, and 1.5 times more likely to smoke and engage in binge drinking.

In a feature that appeared on, adolescent medicine specialist Ellen Rome, MD, MPH noted that young people who diet often end up gaining more weight over time anyway.

“Food fads — such as fat-avoidant, protein-but-no-carbs, and other trends — can actually be unhealthy for the developing brain,” Rome said. “Kids often don’t realize that fats are no longer the enemy. For optimal brain development, they need 50 to 90 grams of fat per day from birth through age 26 years.”

If you are a teenager considering a diet, DON’T DO IT. Instead, adopt a healthier lifestyle and stick with what works – a way of eating that gives you variety and foods that will fuel your brain and body.

If you’re the parent of teen trying to drop pounds, please educate your child on the risks of dieting at a young age.

And always remember, the Meal Plan Map program takes the guesswork out of proper portions and healthy eating.



John McGran has been writing about health and weight loss for several national companies since 2000. He brings his knowledge of diets — and his passion for dropping pounds — to Meal Plan Map because he believes it is the future of smart, stress-free eating and improved health.


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