Shedding pounds won’t help teens’ self-esteem

Teenaged girls shedding pounds may benefit physically, but it still leaves them with a feeling of low esteem, says a study.

“We found that obese black and white teenage girls who transitioned out of obesity continued to see themselves as fat, despite changes in their relative body mass,” said Sarah A. Mustillo, associate professor of sociology from Purdue University, who led the study.

“Further, obese white girls had lower self-esteem than their normal-weight peers and their self-esteem remained flat even as they transitioned out of obesity,” Mustillo was quoted as saying in the Journal of Health and Social Behaviour.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about 17 percent of American children aged two to 19 hears are obese, said a university statement.

“If the current national movement to end childhood obesity is successful, we can anticipate many young people moving from obese into the normal weight range, which will result in better physical health,” Mustillo said.

“I wanted to know if the same thing would happen for psychological health. Girls often struggle with self-esteem anyway during adolescence and, therefore, it is troubling to find that the negative effects of larger body size can outlive the obesity itself,” said Mustillo.

The study is based on data from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Growth and Health Study, derived from more than 2,000 girls who were followed for 10 years - from nine to 10 years as part of the national study.

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