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Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Size zero diets 'ruining girls' health'

Teenage girls are wrecking their health with 'size zero' diets, according to an official report.
They are shunning protein and dairy foods in an apparent effort to keep as thin as their celebrity role models.
The study found that 46 per cent of teenage girls consume too little iron, putting them at risk of anaemia and the associated tiredness and lethargy.

Teen girl squeezing waist
Kate Moss
Teenage girls, image on left posed by model, are shunning protein and dairy foods in an apparent effort to keep as thin as celebrity role models, such as Kate Moss

The diets of a similar percentage are also low in magnesium and selenium, lack of which can lead to insomnia, severe headaches and mood swings.
Only 7 per cent of girls are eating the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. 
And the great majority are failing to consume enough oily fish, which contains the omega 3 necessary for a healthy heart and nervous system. 
The report from the Food Standards Agency also found that teenage girls were significantly more likely to smoke and drink than boys their age.
Alison Tedstone, the agency's nutrition expert, said: 'Teenage girls are one of the groups in the population that stand out as having a poor diet.
'Teenage girls, particularly, don't eat enough. For example, they don't have very much dairy. We are talking about a poor quality of diet overall.
'Everyone recognises this is a group that needs to do better.'
Worryingly, more than a third of teenage girls were found to be overweight and a fifth are obese.
Dr Tedstone said this was true of adults too: 'Huge proportions of the population remain overweight or obese. The figures haven't changed.
'There isn't a golden bullet out there for changing diets, you need to do a whole range of things.That's what the Government has been doing, but we recognise it is a long haul.'
Twelve per cent of girls aged 13 to 15 reported drinking at least once a week - three times the level for boys of the same age.
And 29 per cent said they had smoked at some point, compared with 16 per cent of boys.
Janet Treasure, an eating disorders expert, said a 'size zero' obsession could be leading young girls to swing between starvation diets and junk food binges. 
She said the fashion industry's obsession with catwalk thinness left models at high risk of eating disorders yet millions felt inspired to try to copy them. 
Professor Treasure, who is based at King's College London, said: 'Controlling weight and shape has become a moral imperative for many young girls. It is almost a sign of goodness to be slim.
'The brain is undergoing a great phase of development from 12 to 25 and it needs a proper balance of oils and nutrients.
'If you impair that critical phase, moods become less regulated, you have more difficulty understanding other people and you become less flexible in your thinking.
'There is a risk of getting into a starve and binge routine which is very unhealthy and has been rapidly increasing in recent generations.'
Supermodel Kate Moss caused outrage last year by saying 'nothing tastes as good as skinny feels'.
And there was uproar in 2006 when Uruguayan model Luisel Ramos died from heart failure caused by anorexia.
She reportedly followed a diet of lettuce and Diet Coke in the three months before her death.
Tam Fry, chairman of the Child Growth Foundation, said: 'The poor diet of teenage girls is a hugely serious crisis.
'We need girls to eat properly in order that they are prepared for motherhood.'
The FSA's national diet and nutrition survey found that the national diet had not improved despite a decade of Government campaigns on healthy eating.
The researchers found that more than a quarter of men and one in seven women were regularly drinking twice the maximum recommended amount of alcohol.
And only around a third of adults were following the five a day rule.
Teenage girls are eating twice the amount of sweets, chocolates and sugary drinks that their mothers had consumed when young.



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