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  • Writer's pictureHistory Retold Project

Diets Eating Away at the Youth

My summer routine frequently included walking into the kitchen and seeing my mother concoct repulsive, inadequate foods just to stick to her 500-colories-a-day diet. 1,500 calories under the recommended calorie intake for a woman of her age. All that effort and time and yet here we are, 6 months later: she weighs the same as before and the only proof of her so called ‘magical’ diet was passing her unhealthy views of food onto her impressionable and vulnerable children. Not only are fad diets ineffective, but they also cause lasting body issues for teenagers and children that develop into eating disorders.

A big separator of damaging and healthy ways of losing weight is following an unsafe diet versus maintaining a well-balanced eating lifestyle. According to the Center for Young Women’s Health, diets are ineffective and can even be dangerous. They promote unhealthy weight loss in extreme time periods and food restriction. These fad diets do not include enough of the vitamins that are needed in one’s daily intake, such as iron and calcium, which makes these diets dangerous for children. Rather than relying on damaging diets, the Center of Young Women’s Heath offers healthier ways to get in shape that will not alter one’s idea of food. They emphasize that the key to a healthy diet is to eat multiple types of foods and not just the foods deemed ‘good’ by the mass media. They also include that staying active is essential for getting into shape and that no one practicing a healthy diet can make a big difference without exercise. Rather than dieting, it is proven more effective and safer to have a balanced eating regimen that includes exercise.

These fad diets target vulnerable children and lead to dangerous eating disorders. Mysko, the CEO of the National Eating Disorder Association, found that before the end of elementary school, 40 to 60 percent of girls worry about their weight or the possibility of becoming overweight. In 2002, the National Eating Disorder Association conducted a one-month long study which revealed that 28 percent of boys and 62 percent of girls in high school tried to lose weight. These attempts of losing weight easily become eating disorders because of the intense diets that teenagers follow. Over the span of eight years, the National Eating Disorders Association tracked 496 teenage girls and found that 13.2 percent of them experienced eating disorders. More specifically, Eric Stice, C Nation Marti, Heather Shaw, and Maryanne Jaconis found that 5.2 percent of these girls qualified for anorexia, binge eating, or bulimia. The outburst of fad diets skews the adolescence’s perception of food, causing them to form eating disorders at alarming rates.

Supporters of fad diets will argue that the purpose of diets for children is to end the large rates of obesity in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that 19.3% of children ages 2-19 suffer from obesity. However, research done by Charlotte Markey and Oona Hanson shows that putting children on diets will double the likelihood of them becoming obese after five years. This is because our bodies combat the loss of calorie intake, making us crave certain foods, causing most people to give up on their diets. While obesity in the United States is a pressing issue, the resolution is not putting children on diets that will not help.

Children tend to form eating disorders after falling victim to diets that promote unhealthy eating habits. Fad diets take advantage of juvenile children that cannot properly decide what is safe for their bodies. Diets are merely a cover up for eating disorders and lead to nothing, harm all those involved, and end in dangerous situations that are very challenging to reverse.

Works Cited:

Markey, Charlotte, and Oona Hanson. "Why it's OK to Quit Your Diet." USA Today (Online), 22

Jan 2021. SIRS Issues Researcher, ment/2539979326?accountid=36236.

Mysko, Claire. "Dieting Apps for Kids are Risky, Not 'Healthy'." USA TODAY, 27 Aug 2019.

SIRS Issues Researcher, 2403177?accountid=36236.

Posted under Health Guides. Updated 1 July 2021. “Fad Diets vs. Healthy Behaviors.” Center for Young Women's Health, 1 July 2021,

“Products - Health e Stats - Prevalence of Overweight, Obesity, and Severe Obesity among Children and Adolescents Aged 2–19 Years: United States, 1963–1965 through 2017–2018.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 8 Feb. 2021,

Stice, Eric, et al. “An 8-Year Longitudinal Study of the Natural History of Threshold, Subthreshold, and Partial Eating Disorders from a Community Sample of Adolescents.” Journal of Abnormal Psychology, U.S. National Library of Medicine,

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