My thighs are too fat. My abs aren’t ripped enough. My body is too hairy. I have too many zits.Comments like these are typical of kids who are going through puberty and worried about fitting in. Body dissatisfaction among America’s youth has become so widespread that researchers now consider it a natural part of growing up. When kids are unhappy with their bodies, it can lead to self-esteem issues, depression,obsessive exercising and eating disorders.
Unrealistic expectations for the “perfect” body shape and size are communicated at an early age,starting with busty Barbie® with the pencil-thin waist, as well as G.I. Joe® and superhero characters with massive muscles. Kids are bombarded 24/7 with images of super-thin women and men with bulging biceps and six-pack abs. The media portrays underweight female models as the ideal body type, yet they represent only 5 percent of women in the United States, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists(ACOG) Committee on Adolescent Health Care.
Educating kids about normal body development can help them be more accepting of their bodies.
For example, when girls go through puberty, they typically develop 50 percent more body fat than they had before they started puberty, says Dr. Leslie Sim,psychologist and clinical director of the Mayo ClinicEating Disorders Program in Rochester, Minn. “They call it the fat spurt.”Some researchers estimate that girls pack on an average of 40 pounds during this peak growth period. Combining physical activity with nutritious eating continues to be the most effective way to maintain a normal weight and build self-confidence.
To learn more about this topic add the Food & Fitness issue to your MASK Library.