Many Overweight, Obese Teens Think Their Weight Is Normal

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Teens often view themselves as normal weight despite being overweight or obese.
Teens often view themselves as normal weight despite being overweight or obese.

(HealthDay News) — Many overweight and obese teens don't believe they have a weight problem, according to a study published in the International Journal of Obesity.

Researchers reviewed data on 4,979 teens. They were between 13 and 15 years of age, and they all lived in the United Kingdom. The teens had been asked about their weight and if they thought they were too heavy, too ligh tor about right.

Seventy-three percent of the teens had a weight within the normal range, 20% were overweight and 7% were obese. However, about 40% of those who were overweight or obese said they were about the right weight, and 0.4% even said they were too light, the findings showed. 

More than 80% of the normal-weight teens correctly identified themselves as being the right weight. But, 7% felt they were too heavy and 10% believed they were too light. 

Girls were more likely than boys to think they were too heavy.

"This study was a cause for celebration and concern. Young people who think they're overweight when they're not can sometimes develop devastating eating disorders, so we're delighted that most of the normal-weight teenagers had a realistic view of their body size," Jane Wardle, a professor at the Cancer Research UK Health Behavior Research Center at University College London, said in a Cancer Research UK news release. 

"But we need to find effective ways of helping too-heavy teenagers slim down and maintain a healthier weight, and it's vitally important that we find out whether it helps if they are more aware of their weight status. There are no easy answers."

Reference

  1. Jackson SE et al. Int J Obes. 2015;doi:10.1038/ijo.2015.126.
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