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Adolescent Nutrition and Eating Disorders
N.W. Regional Web Symposium

Adolescent eating disorder issues summarized

Adolescent weight management summarized

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Web Symposium: Child and Adolescent Nutrition

Adolescent Weight Management:  Goals for Intervention Strategies and Guidelines Summarized

Jane Mitchell Rees, PhD, RD, CD
Departments of Health Services and Pediatrics 
Maternal Child Health and Adolescent Medicine 
University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195

Eating Disorders
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Risky Eating Behaviors

Weight Management

Intervention Strategies*

The outcome of weight-management therapies for adolescents is generally poor.  Research is usually designed to study weight loss, although adolescent health specialists have long stressed the importance of focusing on all the benefits of weight-management programs that lead to improved overall health and well being.  Methods designed to achieve rapid weight loss through starvation, inappropriate strenuous exercise, and/or drugs can be harmful.  The following list of positive outcomes suggests realistic goals of comprehensive weight-management programs or educational projects for adolescents:

  • Increased self esteem
  • Increased knowledge of nutritional principles of weight management
  • Increased knowledge of personal needs for nourishment
  • Improved control of food-related behaviors
  • Increased awareness of the role of exercise in weight management
  • Increased participation in energy-demanding activities
  • Increased awareness of the role of social and psychological factors in weight management
  • Increased participation in normal teen life
  • Improved ability to function in social situations
  • Improved ability to establish meaningful relationships
  • Greater ability to separate from family in a normal fashion
  • Improved body image
  • Ability to focus on aspects of themselves apart from weight
  • Ability to evaluate weight-loss plans
  • More realistic understanding of psychological and physiological aspects of weight problems, including implications for future goals
  • Greater readiness for bringing energy intake and output under control

Programs should include methods for accomplishing these goals.  Ultimately these outcomes represent progress toward stabilizing and improving the adolescent's body weight and overall health.

* Modified from Mahan LK. Rees JM: Seattle, Wash., 1989©.  Originally published in Mahan LK. Rees JM: Nutrition in Adolescence, St. Louis, 1984, Mosby-Year Book. 

Guiding adolescents concerned about body weight*

These guidelines translate the principles of healthy weight management into concepts adolescents can easily understand.  Originally designed by an interdisciplinary team of adolescent health care specialists for adolescents that were heavier than average, they are modified here to apply for adolescents who need guidance in overcoming restricting or bulimic eating problems also.  In fact, all teenagers can use these guidelines to develop healthy eating habits.

Be Sizewise:  Don't loose your balance


  • Be good to your body -- give it what it needs
  • Don't starve or stuff yourself
  • Know what's in the food you eat and how your body will use it


  • Do interesting things -- quiet as well as energetic
  • Take time to relax every day
  • Don't let eating or exercise be your only recreation
  • Do some, but not too much, strenuous activity every day
  • Share active and quiet times with friends


  • Learn to know and like yourself
  • Have realistic goals for yourself
  • Don't substitute food or food and exercise rituals for love and companionship
  • Build satisfying relationships with your family and friends
  • Don't let food and body shape take over thoughts and feelings**
  • Get help for problems you can't cope with alone
 * Modified from Mahan LK. Rees JM: Seattle, Wash., 1989©.  Originally published in Mahan LK. Rees JM: Nutrition in Adolescence, St. Louis, 1984, Mosby-Year Book.

**If you have trouble with this you probably need to seek help as in the last Guideline

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