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Body-image distortion predicts onset of unsafe weight-loss behaviors
Date:6/17/2010

k-fix promises, and extreme weight-loss methods are a hoax. They don't work over the long term and they might do harm."

Compared to body dissatisfaction which has been positively correlated with eating disorders, depression and high-risk behaviors among adolescent girls body-image distortion may be a better red flag for unsafe weight-loss among teens.

"Body-image is often measured as body-image satisfaction, which is how satisfied you feel about your body," she said. "While that's important, the problem with using that measure is that some studies show that 50 to 80 percent of women are dissatisfied with their bodies. That kind of ubiquitous discontent doesn't give a very specific measure of body-image distress. It turns out that body-image distortion may be a more useful screening tool for counselors, parents or health-care providers."

In contrast to dieting and extreme methods of weight-loss, Liechty's research also discovered that body-image distortion has no relationship to girls' use of exercise as a primary way to lose weight, suggesting that body-image distortion motivates girls to use unsafe but not safe methods of weight control.

This is important to know, Liechty said, because exercise is a standard recommendation for healthy adolescent weight management, and it has many health benefits such as cardio-respiratory fitness and improved mood.

"Choosing a lifestyle that's sustainable and healthy where the fuel intake matches the output is really the safest long-term plan for weight management," Liechty said.

"Even though excessive exercise or exercise addiction can become a problem for a small percentage of people, staying physically active is an important ingredient of lifetime weight management. But if we exercise out of addiction or a punitive attitude toward our bodies, it's associated with depression and anxiety. So the attitude and the relationship with self and with body matter a lot in how we ap
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Contact: Phil Ciciora
pciciora@illinois.edu
217-333-2177
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert  

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