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Your Healthy Body Image Affects Your Child's Self-Esteem

By womenshealth.gov
 
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"On a diet, you can't eat." That is what one 5- year-old girl had to say in a study on girls' ideas about dieting. This and other research has shown that daughters are more likely to have ideas about dieting when their mothers diet.

Children pick up on comments about dieting concepts that may seem harmless, such as limiting high-fat foods or eating less. Yet, as girls enter their teen years, having ideas about dieting can lead to problems.

Many things can spark weight concerns for girls and impact their eating habits in potentially unhealthy ways:

- Having mothers concerned about their own weight

- Having mothers who are overly concerned about their daughters' weight and looks

- Natural weight gain and other body changes during puberty

- Peer pressure to look a certain way

- Struggles with self-esteem

- Media images showing the ideal female body as thin

Many teenage girls of average weight think they are overweight and are not satisfied with their bodies. Having extreme weight concerns — and acting on those concerns — can harm girls' social, physical, and emotional growth. Actions such as skipping meals or taking diet pills can lead to poor nutrition and difficulty learning.

For some, extreme efforts to lose weight can lead to eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia. For others, the pressure to be thin can actually lead to binge eating disorder: overeating that is followed by extreme guilt. What's more, girls are more likely to further risk their health by trying to lose weight in unhealthy ways, such as smoking.

Although not as common, boys are also at risk of developing unhealthy eating habits and eating disorders. Body image becomes an important issue for teenage boys as they struggle with body changes and pay more attention to media images of the "ideal" muscular male.

Help Your Child have a Healthy Body Image

Your children pay attention to what you say and do — even if it doesn't seem like it sometimes. If you are always complaining about your weight or feel pressure to change your body shape, your children may learn that these are important concerns.

Add a Comment1 Comments

EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Many twists and turns convolute the path and the process when healing eating and weight issues. Every one who diets has issues with food or body image. Each person’s journey is unique, but certain behavioral similarities are fundamental at the start for nearly everyone who is affected.
Why?
This may surprise you, but the sociocultural roots of diet and weight issues are hidden deep in plain view. They are found in the often unspoken and generally accepted expectations we hold about the world in which we live. These expectations are primarily determined by the combined attitudes of people who comprise this culture and society.
It is personally surprising to find out how deeply entrenched these sociocultural systems are to each of us. Yet, taking stock of the conscious and unconscious influence these expectations hold on us individually is the first step to freeing ourselves from them forever.
To find out for yourself how immune or immersed you are in these biases,check out bestselling book- Not Your Mother's Diet.

March 22, 2012 - 10:03am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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