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How is Body Image Tied to Obesity and Other Eating Disorders?

Feb 6, 2008
Eating disorders are very closely tied to the body image that young people develop. Those who have healthy relationships, healthy eating habits, and are physically active do not usually have as many problems as those teens who do not eat, do not exercise, and are in relationships with either parents, siblings, or other teens that ridicule their body and make them feel uncomfortable about who they are.

The average woman in America is 5'4" tall and weighs about 142 pounds. The average American fashion model is 5'9" tall, but only weighs around 110 pounds. Adults who are obsessed with their weight often became that way during their teenage years, when pressure to be accepted by peers and by the opposite sex was very high.

Because of this, eating disorders have been on the rise, and girls as young as nine years old have been known to diet. Dieting while still growing can be very dangerous, and can harm a young person. Childhood obesity is on the rise and should be watched for, but there is no reason to go to the opposite extreme.

There is no argument that a healthy diet and good exercise plan is important for any age, as it helps people to lose weight, and they ultimately weigh less naturally if they are active. There is also no argument that overweight people often have health problems, and that much of the obesity in this country starts in the childhood and teenage years, so weight loss can be very important, but only down to a healthy weight. Eating properly and exercising moderately are not the same as starving oneself and working out until physical exhaustion sets in or one passes out.

As long as society values extraordinarily thin women, teenage girls will continue to wrestle with their body images, and eating disorders will continue to increase. There has also been an alarming increase in the number of teenage boys with eating disorders, as they try to emulate fashion models and actors who have "perfect" bodies.

Many of these young men feel that they are too heavy, and they are also concerned that they do not have enough muscle definition, so they eat less and work out harder, which is fine up to a point but can become very dangerous when they do not get the nutrition that they need for all of the exercise that they are getting. Without understanding and change in society's images of the "ideal" body, this disturbing trend will continue to grow in the future.
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