. . . helping you toward your goal of optimal health
for your mind, body, and relationships
Q: One of my best friends is overweight
(a doctor confirmed it). Some of the other kids make fun of
her. How can I show support for my friend?
A: Unfortunately, there's a size prejudice in this country. Some people think that people who are overweight or even just heavier than the media's "ideal body" are lazy, stupid, or ugly. The teens who make fun of your friend are disrespecting her-and everyone else. Size prejudice hurts all teens, because teens who have a normal weight but diet anyway are afraid of getting fat ("fat" often being perceived as heavier than the typical skinny model). One response to these bullies is for you and your friend to simply ignore them; many bullies will get bored and leave people alone if they can't get a rise out of them. (If you or your friend are threatened or physically harmed, make sure you tell a teacher and your parents.) Another tactic is to educate them that their teasing is inflicting serious harm; overweight teens who are teased suffer higher rates of depression and suicide than normal-weight teens. You are already way ahead of the other teens on the respect scale. Continue promoting respect for individual differences by:
- Recognizing that size, shape, or weight has nothing to do with the worth of a person
- Finding friends who value good character above appearance
- Learning to value what makes you and your friends special and different
Q: I hear so much about the "low-carb" diets in the news and in magazines. Is this a good idea if I want to drop a few pounds?
A: A handful of studies have shown that a medically supervised
program of eating a low carbohydrate (LC) diet can be effective
in helping obese teens lose weight. In one study, for example,
the LC dieters lost more weight than teens on a low-fat diet,
despite the fact that the LC dieters actually took in more
calories (Journal of Pediatrics, March 2003). Another
study found that the body mass index and fat mass decreased
in teens who followed a diet relatively higher in fat and
lower in carbohydrates than a control group (Archives
of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, August 2003). Please
note that these studies were medically supervised,
that is, the teens were under the constant care of a physician.
If you are concerned that you are overweight, see a physician
to determine whether that truly is the case. Many teens who
think they are overweight are in fact normal. An unnecessary
restriction in calories or nutrients can be harmful for your
growth and development. Do not start a low-carb or any other
kind of diet unless it is under the direction of your physician.