A study from the National Center for Health Statistics shows that more than one third of American teenagers have tried to lose weight in the last year. With nearly have of these teens being girls.
Dieting has become popular for teenagers between the ages of 13 to 19. To achieve this goal, teens aren't afraid to take drastic measures, like exercising excessively and micro-managing what they eat.
Sanford Health Dietitian Amanda Nack says, "Just overall trying to cut calories. Restricting in-take throughout the day and not eating until later in the day. Kinda with that mindset that if I restrict calories, than I can lose weight."
With social media being what it is today, Nack said she isn't surprised that teens are feeling the pressure.
"In today's society, we often categorize foods as good and bad foods, so it can create a lot of these mixed messages. Especially for teens that are just trying to eat what they enjoy and what they like, but yet they feel maybe guilty when they're eating what they like because of these different messages that they've heard," says Nack.
This confusion can lead teens down a dark path.
"Dieting in extreme measures taken can kinda start this vicious cycle of body dissatisfaction and it could potentially lead to some disordered eating or an eating disorder, too," says Nack.
One way parents can help their teens is by trying to neutralize foods and avoid putting certain foods into categories.
"So it's really important that at home, we're not referring to foods as good foods or bad foods or cheat foods or guilt-free foods just because those are labels that can really kinda tie emotions to that food and make that teen feel guilty or lesser for eating a certain of food when that's not necessary."
Nack encourages parents to talk with their teens. A good place to start is by educating them on how all foods can fit into a balanced diet.
If you notice your teen is skipping meals or continually talking about their body image and wanting to lose weight, it's not a bad idea to reach out to your primary care provider to ask for help.