Fre­quent weight checks tied to less self-es­teem for young women

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

NEW YORK: Teens who of­ten weigh them­selves may be more likely to have men­tal health prob­lems, ac­cord­ing to a new study. Girls who said they of­ten weigh them­selves were more likely to have de­pres­sion, weight con­cerns and self-es­teem is­sues, re­searchers found. “The find­ings from this study sug­gest that for some teens and young adults, self-weigh­ing is as­so­ci­ated with poor psy­cho­log­i­cal health and it is im­por­tant that we use cau­tion when rec­om­mend­ing self-weigh­ing or any strat­egy for weight con­trol that may not be ben­e­fi­cial for some in­di­vid­u­als,” said lead au­thor Carly R Pa­canowski, of the Univer­sity of Min­nesota in Min­neapo­lis.

The 10-year study tracked al­most 2,000 ado­les­cents, most of whom were fe­male. They were sur­veyed, weighed and mea­sured in 1998, when they were in mid­dle or high school and then again in 2003 and 2008 as they tran­si­tioned into young adult­hood. Over­all, few par­tic­i­pants agreed that they weighed them­selves “of­ten,” the re­searchers re­ported in the Jour­nal of Nu­tri­tion Ed­u­ca­tion and Be­hav­ior. But among women whose re­ports of self-weigh­ing in­creased over time, so did their weight con­cern and symp­toms of de­pres­sion, which can be pre­dic­tors of eat­ing disorders, re­searchers found.

For men, as re­ported self-weigh­ing in­creased, so did con­cern about weight, but other psy­cho­log­i­cal vari­ables did not change. Par­ents, teach­ers, aunts, un­cles, and friends may want to ask about self­weigh­ing to gather more in­for­ma­tion if a teen seems overly con­cerned with her weight, Pa­canowski told Reuters Health by email. “Self-weigh­ing may be eas­ier to talk about ini­tially than self-es­teem or de­pres­sive symp­toms,” Pa­canowski said. “From there, get­ting in touch with a health­care provider would be the next step.” Obe­sity-preven­tion pro­grams should avoid wors­en­ing body dis­sat­is­fac­tion and weight con­cern by un­der­stand­ing how be­hav­iors like self-weigh­ing af­fect teens, she said. Pa­canowski also cau­tioned that the new study can’t say whether self-weigh­ing causes low self­es­teem, or low self-es­teem causes teens or young adults to weigh them­selves more fre­quently. The new study is also lim­ited by the use of the sub­jec­tive term “of­ten” to gauge the fre­quency of self­weigh­ing over time, said Jes­sica LaRose, a health be­hav­ior and pol­icy re­searcher at Vir­ginia Com­mon­wealth Univer­sity in Rich­mond, who was not part of the new study. “Thus, in terms of clin­i­cal im­pli­ca­tions for pe­di­a­tri­cians, we can’t de­ter­mine us­ing th­ese data whether there is a spe­cific thresh­old or fre­quency of self­weigh­ing in this age group that could serve as a sig­nal to ex­plore men­tal health symp­toms and well-be­ing,” LaRose told Reuters Health by email. —Reuters

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