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Preventing childhood obesity while promoting a positive body image

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month—a new observance that started five years ago, but is in keeping with mounting public awareness about the problem of childhood obesity. While parents are hit with messages to prevent obesity, they often get conflicting advice. So what can parents do to prevent obesity without instilling an unhealthy obsession with weight?

Researchers at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health recommend parents start by modifying the home environment to make it easier to engage in healthier eating and activity and by modeling healthy eating and physical activity behaviors, a positive body image, and avoidance of weight talk. Their advice is based on research gathered through Project EAT, one of the largest and most comprehensive studies to examine weight-related issues in teenagers led by Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Ph.D. Neumark-Sztainer used the findings from Project EAT to provide parents strategies in the book, I’m, Like, So Fat! Helping Your Teen Make Healthy choices about Eating and Exercise in a Weight-Obsessed World.

Health Talk spoke with Colleen Flattum, M.S., R.D., senior program manager with Project EAT.

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research-and-clinical-trials

Adolescents who eat regular family meals less likely to engage in eating disorder behaviors finds University of Minnesota study

As a kid, rushing home from a friend’s house to make it to dinner on time may not have been your favorite thing to do. But, it turns out that family meal time may have been worth it after all.

According to a recent study, adolescents, especially girls, who eat more family meals are less likely to engage in harmful eating disorder behaviors. Furthermore, this protection against disordered eating behaviors was found to exist in the majority of families studied, even for adolescents whose families struggled with communication or other challenges.

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research-and-clinical-trials

Harassment linked with cumulative poor emotional & physical wellbeing in teens

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research-and-clinical-trials

Healthful eating starts with healthy conversations at home

Parents, you may want to watch your mouths. What you say to adolescents about healthy eating – and how you say it – may have a major impact on their food intake and perceptions about a healthy body image according to new research out of the University of Minnesota.

The article, “Parent Conversations About Healthful Eating and Weight,” was published online this week in JAMA Pediatrics. The study shows that conversations with parents about weight or size were associated with more dieting and disordered eating behaviors among adolescents – and not just among those considered overweight.

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research-and-clinical-trials

When teasing goes too far: The weight of teenage harassment

The teenage years are arguably some of the most difficult. If societal pressures and a teen’s own insecurities about coming-of-age weren’t hard enough, adolescence is often ushered in alongside new levels of teasing and harassment.

Weightism, Racism, Classism, and Sexism: Shared Forms of Harassment in Adolescents,” a new study based on Project EAT 2010 data, took a closer look at harassment among middle- and high-schoolers based on weight, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status, as well as sexual harassment.

“Weight-based and race-based harassment were most prevalent, followed by sexual harassment and socioeconomic status based harassment,” said Michaela M. Bucchianeri, Ph.D., lead author for the study. “The results highlight a pattern of cross-harassment such that the prevalence of the various types of harassment reported differed greatly across sociodemographic groups.”

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nutrition

Family meals: Good for the kids and good for you!

A new study published this month in the journal Appetite shows that parents who eat more family meals with their kids eat more fruits and veggies.

To learn more about the results, we talked with Jerica Berge, Ph.D., a University of Minnesota Medical School assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health. Berge is the lead author of the latest study, which is part of the larger, ongoing study Project EAT study examining the eating patterns of middle and high school students enrolled in Minneapolis and St. Paul school districts.

Here’s what Berge had to say…

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