The problem with obesity doesn’t just stop at weight loss. According to a study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, teenage girls who have successfully lost weight might still carry the same insecurities they had when they were 10 or 20 pounds heavier.

For 10 years, researchers followed more than 2,000 black and white teenage girls aged between 9 and 10. They categorized the girls into three groups (normal weight, transitioned from obesity and chronically obese) and found that there was, first and foremost, a difference in the way the participants viewed themselves depending on their race.

"The self-esteem for black girls was lower overall to begin with, but for those who moved into the normal weight range, self-esteem increased more than it did for any other group of girls," says Sarah A. Mustillo, a Purdue associate professor of sociology studying obesity in childhood and adolescence. White teenage girls, on the other hand, couldn't seem to shake off their low self-esteem even after they have lost weight.

Despite these results, researchers still haven’t pinpointed the exact reason for the girls’ low self-esteem. Furthermore, the data used in the study is from more than a decade ago. Since obesity is more common now than it was all those years ago, there could now be a change in the way girls today see themselves. Still, it’s not a bad idea for parents and medical experts to consider the possible psychological effects (or the lack of it) of weight loss.

(Photo by rachel a. k. via Flickr Creative Commons)

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