Friday, September 03, 2004

The War on Fat's Casualties

The War on Fat's Casualties

By Sandy Szwarc
Published 07/24/2003

With all of the pressure to be thin, the onslaught of diet messages finds a ready audience. At any given time, up to 80 million American adults are on a diet.

Women and children are the primary victims of this relentless harping. Almost half of all first graders and 90 percent of high school girls are already dieting, even though only 10 to 15 percent of them are over recommended weights. By college, almost all students have dieted, disproportionate to the number with real weight problems, according to multiple studies. One study, led by Lori Clayton Pereyra, M.F.C.S., R.D., C.D.N., and published in a 1997 Journal of the American Dietetic Association, found half of students were currently on a diet even though only 18 percent were outside recommended weights.

It has been well documented that dieting and insufficient calories and nutrients in growing children contribute to poor learning, stunted growth, delayed puberty, and behavioral problems, according to Kenneth Davis, M.D., of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in Total Nutrition (St. Martin's Griffin, 1995). "Many teenage girls, already the most poorly nourished of any group in America, have stopped drinking milk or eating meat in their extreme fear of fat," Frances Berg, M.S., editor-in-chief of Healthy Weight Journal, said.

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