Obesity Plus Low Self-Esteem May Lead to Risky Behavior in Teens

Parents, you might think that by putting your child on a strict diet, you are helping them to learn good habits, but it’s possible that you may be contributing to their poor self-esteem. Recent studies have shown that by the age of 14, children who are obese experience significantly lower self-esteem than children who are of a healthy weight, and as a result, they are more likely to begin smoking and drinking alcohol at an earlier age.

The study focused on children of all races from age 10 to 14. Observing their self esteem, body mass, and alcohol/tobacco usage, researchers found that, while obese children at age 10 experience similar self-esteem as their non-obese peers, by the age of 14, significant differences were discovered.

Early adolescence is an important time for a child, especially an obese child. By working with your teenager to help them learn about healthy food choices and eating right, while giving them the power to make the decisions, you can help him or her make lifestyle changes that may be longer lasting. Encouraging healthy habits and physical activity instead of relying on calorie counts and strict diet regimens will likely result in more positive behavior from your child.