To examine how overestimation of weight status affected future weight-loss behaviors, Liechty employed logistic regression analysis to predict the onset of the three types of weight-loss behaviors one year later. She discovered that body-image distortion predicts the onset of dieting, and the onset of extreme and unsafe ways to lose weight.
"What this means is, a girl with a distorted body-image is at much greater risk for resorting to unsafe dieting and extreme weight-loss methods than a girl without body-image distortion, even if she doesn't need to lose weight," Liechty said.
This discovery highlights the importance of cultivating an accurate and positive body-image throughout the teenage years, and of being wary of dieting and extreme methods to lose weight among teens, which are somewhat of a trap, Liechty says.
"This study suggests that if otherwise healthy, non-overweight girls begin using a type of potentially unsafe weight-loss strategy, such as dieting or an extreme method, the odds that they will continue to use that method one year later increase from three to 11 times, " she said.
In other words, if a teen starts down a path of risky weight-loss practices, they're much more likely to continue using that method.
"It doesn't just fade away or stop all of a sudden," Liechty said. "That's why early detection of risk factors such as body-image distortion, and prevention of unnecessary dieting and unsafe weight-loss methods, is the key to pre-empting unhealthy behaviors. We need to educate girls and their parents that fad diets, quic
|Contact: Phil Ciciora|
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign