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Teens’ thoughts on weight influence by Mom

Teens may not show it, but they seem to take in what their mother’s think about their weight. A new study, conducted by researchers from Harvard Medical School, Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Children’s Hospital in Boston, found that mothers’ perceptions on weight and dieting often affect their adolescent children’s interest in dieting.

Results of the study are published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. The study, which involved more than 9,000 girls and boys aged 11-18, shows that teens who believed that their mothers want them to be thin or lean would likely want to be slimmer and to diet frequently. One third of the girls reported thinking frequently about wanting to be thin, and so did eight percent of the boys. Nearly one in ten girls also admitted to having dieted frequently (dieting everyday or two to six times weekly) in the previous year.

Adolescent girls were found to be particularly sensitive to their mother’s perceptions, even girls who are totally wrong in thinking that their mothers wanted thin kids tended to express greater interest in dieting. The same was not true for boys. Most of them only reported thinking a lot about not being fat if they believed that it truly mattered to their mothers. Researchers advice parents especially the mothers to be a healthy role model to their children, and to keep in mind that their dieting and weight beliefs would affect their kids.

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