going deeper

Health Tip: Teens and body image

By: Brennan

In today’s hyper-critical media environment, it can be tough to teach young people to have a positive self-image. Many teens struggle with body image issues like worrying they are overweight.

In fact, a recent study showed that two in three 13-year-olds worry about gaining weight. This type of negative body image can lead to eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia.

These problems impact both boys as well as girls. Over one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control tactics, like skipping meals, fasting, vomiting or smoking cigarettes.

A child’s best example for a healthy body image is their parents. Follow these tips to help your teens love their bodies.

·       Be a good role model. Set an example of a healthy lifestyle by eating well, filling your home with healthy foods and exercising regularly.

·       Be positive. Avoid negative self-speak in front of your kids like, “Does this make me look fat?” Do not make negative comments about your child’s body or weight. Instead, compliment your child and help encourage healthy habits.

·       Teach your teens about media. Talk to your children about the use of photo editing tools and unrealistic body images portrayed in the media.

·       Focus on the whole person. Support your child’s talents and skills that have nothing to do with looks, like music, sports, arts, or volunteering.

Most importantly, speak openly with your children about body image so they know they have a support system if they need help.

Are you or someone you know struggling with an eating disorder or body image problem? Adventist HealthCare Behavioral Health & Wellness offers a range of services to help both adults and adolescents struggling with these problems.