It's not just teenage girls who worry about their body image and weight. A new study suggests that teenage boys are also increasingly worried about how they look and how much they weigh and many are practicing weight control measures, putting them at increased risk for eating disorders.
"The pervasive view is that eating disorders are a problem experienced only by girls or women," notes Dr Ruth H. Striegel-Moore of Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.
"But males are no longer 'immune' to social pressures to conform to a lean body ideal," Striegel-Moore said.
How the study was done
She and colleagues examined trends in weight control behaviours over a 10-year period in US high school students. In 2005, nearly 27 percent of teenage boys reported dieting and almost five percent used diet products, up from 16 and two percent, respectively, in 1995, they report in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.
Teen boys similarly showed an increasing trend in their use of exercise for weight control over the 10-year period. Hispanic boys were the most likely to practice weight control, followed by black, then white boys.
The results, the researchers say, add to the growing evidence that boys and men, regardless of ethnicity, are at risk for developing harmful weight control behaviours.
"The increased numbers of boys who report body image concern is worrisome in part because health professionals may not be prepared to detect such problems among boys," Striegel-Moore noted.
Among girls, the overall prevalence of dieting increased from nearly 48 to almost 55 percent, but black girls tended to show less of a concern with 'thinness' than did Hispanic and white girls.
Future studies need to investigate possible explanations for the different weight control practices among different ethnic groups of teenagers, as well as the increasing trend of weight control practices among male adolescents, the investigators conclude. – (Reuters Health)
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