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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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Harassment linked with cumulative poor emotional & physical wellbeing in teens

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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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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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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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Disney joins the nation’s fight against obesity

Recent news that Disney has put the kibosh on junk food advertisements on their website, TV and radio stations seems on par with other efforts aimed at improving children’s health, but will the move really make an impact on children’s eating behaviors?

According to Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., a University of Minnesota School of Public Health epidemiologist and principal investigator of Project EAT, the answer is yes.

“There’s a reason that snack foods and sugary cereals are on the shelf closest to a small child’s line of vision,” said Neumark-Sztainer. “It’s the same reason these foods are advertised during the day. Children – like adults – are influenced by advertising.”

Neumark-Sztainer believes that by regulating food advertising on shows targeting children, Disney is taking a role in educating children on making better food choices. Because sugary and high calorie options aren’t being promoted, Disney is making a move to expose children to one less promotion of unhealthy food.

With the new criteria, Disney will scrutinize the calorie count of any food advertised on its channels. Though this won’t eliminate all junk food from being advertised, it will ensure that the food promoted is within a healthy calorie range for young children.

“I think Disney’s self-regulation is a positive move,” said Neumark-Sztainer. “While there will be alternative media channels where kids are exposed to advertising of unhealthy food choices and the impact of the company’s move is difficult to quantify, the effort is still a positive step.”

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