What do most teenage girls do

Anorexia: Dangerous Diets for Teens

Be slim at any price - that is the declared motto of countless girls. In order to fit in dress size 34 or 36 and to conform to the current ideal of beauty, the teenagers do without food on some days, do excessive sport or try strange and one-sided diets. Nutritionists warn against such eating experiments, especially during puberty, as extreme weight loss programs are often the first step towards an eating disorder. An expert explains why diet mania is so dangerous at a young age and which popular diets are not advisable.

Kim is only 15 years old, but already a nutrition specialist. She knows exactly how many calories a chocolate bar has and that there are 80 "evil figure killers" in a glass of apple juice, as she calls it. With every bite she rewinds the nutritional table and the daily burn balance in her head. "I just can't turn it off," says the student, "and my friends do it that way too. It's like a competition. One says that she has lost pounds again. The others then want to follow suit, and finally we control each other each other, so that even a sandwich with the 'wrong' topping is always commented on. "

The young girl has not eaten with pleasure in a long time. She has also tried various diets with her friends. Because Kim finds herself too fat, just like countless other girls of her age. The 15-year-old is of normal weight, wears size 38 and actually has no reason to lose weight.

Diet madness despite normal weight

But many young people struggle with their "normal" pounds and have a rather distorted body perception, says nutritionist Barbara Dohmen from her everyday practice. For years she has counseled and treated teenagers with eating disorders - most of them are girls. The expert explains to the parents' editorial office at T-online.de: "Many girls who come to me are actually of normal weight. They often get into an eating disorder due to diets because they often do not accept their bodies and do not want to admit that they are during During puberty, hormonal changes not only make the breast more womanly and rounder. "

"Size-Zero" as the ideal of beauty

Scientists agree that one reason for the widespread obsession with slimness is the common ideal of beauty, which is propagated and exemplified in programs like "Germany's Next Top Model" or by Hollywood celebrities and tells us: Only extremely thin women with us "Size Zero" are attractive. To achieve this, young girls use the body mass index (BMI) as a guide, which is supposed to show the proportional share of body fat and whose optimal value is now set at a very low 18.

"This brand, which many strive for, has nothing to do with being healthy and slim, but is actually a dramatic figure for being underweight from a medical point of view," comments Dohmen. In addition, such numbers said little about the actual percentage of body fat. Because with a slightly higher BMI of 24 or 25, one does not have to be overweight: "This can also be about muscle mass. This occurs especially in young people who do competitive sports," says Dohmen.

But such discoveries seem to bounce off many teenagers. They continue to emulate their super-thin models. Because only through "perfect model measurements", which have to be achieved, do they feel attractive, sexy and accepted by those around them.

Slimming girls often have full figured mothers

For many girls, the first step to becoming a "dream figure" is dieting. Dohmen knows that their efforts to become thinner often also reflect the wishes of their mothers. Because numerous girls who wanted to lose weight have mothers who are full figured and who have long been fighting against their excess pounds with new diets. "Of course, the children watch something like that. The eating behavior in the family therefore has an important role model function."

Diets: Children work consistently against their bodies

How widespread diets are among teenagers is shown by figures published by the German government last year: According to this, almost half of girls and around 22 percent of boys between the ages of eleven and 17 feel too fat. And around a quarter of the female and a tenth of the male adolescents had already had experience with diets.

Nutritionist Dohmen thinks this development is worrying, because in most cases the adolescents prescribed the weight loss diets themselves - without medical supervision and supervision: "Such diets are so dangerous because they are usually very one-sided and extremely low-calorie. The metabolism becomes high down too far.

Damage to health such as hair loss, pimples, missed periods, iron deficiency or even cardiac arrhythmias can be the result. "This is why the expert advises against such diets, especially for adolescents. Because one-sidedness always means deficiency. The children consequently work against it After all, a teenager would normally have an energy requirement of 3,000, not 1,000, calories.

One diet replaces the next

However, the negative health consequences can be exacerbated if you don't just stick to diet. "Most of the girls who tell me about their diets usually don't last long," says Dohmen. "They quickly suffer from food cravings, give in to it and therefore break off after a short time before turning to a new 'miracle diet'." This is often the beginning of a fatal vicious circle, according to the nutritionist, and not infrequently the entry into an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia.

Eating shouldn't be a burden, but a pleasure

But how can young people learn to eat healthily without dangerous diets? "It's not that easy to give up old habits," comments Dohmen. "Many teenagers have simply forgotten to listen to their insides and to adjust their eating habits to real hunger and satiety. They just see the calories and count."

In order to change something here in the long term, it is above all up to the parents to be a role model and to give high priority to a balanced diet with lots of fruit and vegetables at family meals and to celebrate food as something good: "Children have to learn that eating is not a burden , it means pleasure and that you and your family will experience how sensual and communicative a good meal can be that can also fill you up - without a guilty conscience. The focus should be on enjoyment. Fathers and mothers can set an example if they Children are still young. "

And also, according to nutritionist Dohmen, it is important to strengthen the self-confidence of teenagers and consistently convey to them that their worth is not only defined by a slim figure. Even those who do not have model dimensions are attractive and lovable.

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  • Germany's Next Topmodel,
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