Lack of veggies can lead girls to a life of obesity

Reuters 31 Jul 2008
Many teenage girls are not getting the nutrients they need to ensure healthy development, putting them at risk for weight-related problems and cardiovascular disease. Female adolescence is an important time for setting up adult health, as nutritional needs change because of increased growth and the beginning of menstruation, said Andy Bellatti, who runs the popular nutrition blog Small Bites. But studies have shown that on average, teenage girls are not getting enough fiber, calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium or vitamins A, E and B in their diets, and are eating too much saturated fat and sodium, said Bellatti, who is also a graduate student in New York University’s Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health.

…As childhood obesity rises, adolescents are more often turning to unhealthy methods to control their weight. A University of Minnesota study found that nearly 20 percent of girls and women had used diet pills by the time they turned 20. The incidence of use in high schoolers nearly doubled over the five years of the study, from 7.5 percent to 14.2 percent. The study revealed that more than 60 percent of teenage girls had resorted to diet pills, laxatives, vomiting or skipping meals to control their weight, and girls who employ these extreme diet methods are also more likely to be overweight. “A lot of girls believe that the way to lose weight is to cut calories,” Bellatti said. Ironically, a pattern of crash dieting or extreme calorie restriction will eventually affect metabolism and could lead to weight gain in the future.