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Not all overweight teens struggle with their body image. While there are some who are unhappy about their extra pounds, there are also others who are content with their weight. According to a study to be published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, these teens are also less likely to fall into depression and engage in unhealthy behaviors.
Researchers studied 103 overweight adolescents between 2004 and 2006. They examined the teens' perception of their weight, the importance of thinness, and their self-esteem, among other things. The study authors discovered that girls who had high body satisfaction were less prone to unhealthy behaviors like vomiting, fasting, and skipping meals. They were also less likely to become depressed.
This study shows that body image has a huge influence over teenagers. Parents who want to help their kids develop healthier habits should start with helping them achieve a better body image. Kerri Boutelle, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the University of California-San Diego School of Medicine, says, "A focus on enhancing self-image while providing motivation and skills to engage in effect weight-control behaviors may help protect young girls from feelings of depression, anxiety, or anger sometimes associated with being overweight.”
(Photo from Hairspray courtesy of New Line Cinema)