Peer pressure, bullying and trying to fit in with social media norms are some of the reasons that may lead children to go on a diet as they approach puberty. However, some children start developing an unhealthy relationship with food and exhibit dieting behaviour at a much younger age, public health specialist and registered nutritionist Antonella Grima says.
“This could be in response to stressful events in their lives, pressure to lose weight or to model the behaviour of older siblings, peers or adults in their life,” she explains.
Various international studies found that children may start dieting from the ages of eight to 10 but some actually take part in some sort of dieting behaviour at an even earlier age.
Grima explains that, just like adults, children may go on a very restrictive diet, leave out entire food groups and fast for long periods or eat minute quantities of food in the hope of reaching the desired weight quickly.
“Quick fixes are appealing to everyone and children and adolescents are no exception,” she notes.
This not only deprives the body of essential nutrients at a time of growth and development but may also lead to eating disorders such as binge-eating disorder or anorexia nervosa.
Dieting not only deprives the body of essential nutrients at a time of growth and development but may also lead to eating disorders
Older children and adolescents are also likely to follow fad diets they come across on social media.
“Fad diets and treatments come and go with the seasons and tend to gain popularity if celebrities and influencers are following them,” Grima points out.
Fad diets include low-carbohydrate diets, the grapefruit diet, the cookie diet and the blood type diet, to name a few.
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