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Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Weight Control in Middle School

Eating disorders obviously have negative consequences on people suffering with them including electrolyte imbalances, menstrual and digestive dysfunction, cardiomyopathy, and premature death. Disordered weight-control behaviors - like laxative use and vomiting are precursors to eating disorders and have also been found to be common in obese adolescents. Childhood obesity also has long term consequences to health. To combat both eating disorders and obesity, more schools are implementing wellness programs in conjunction with traditional fitness classes - to give students the skills they need to be healthy throughout their lives.

Results from research on Planet Health, an interdisciplinary school-based obesity prevention intervention were recently published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine suggesting that the program prevented disordered weight-control behavior in early adolescent girls. That article also suggests that more research must be done to figure out what works to prevent eating disorders in middle school-aged males, who did not reflect the same benefits as females after being exposed to the intervention.

The curriculum includes health messages focused on physical activity, TV viewing, and consumption of fruits and vegetables. This study was conducted with 13 middle schools in Massachusetts and the results published are from 1,451 students in grades 6 and 7. The results showed that at follow-up, there were more girls reporting disordered weight-control behaviors in the control schools than in the schools that received the intervention.

Photo Credit: crouchingbadger

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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.