USA Today and ABC News carry reports of a new study showing that increasing numbers of teenage girls are dieting, and that this is leading to either eating disorders or weight gain or, in many cases, both. These findings are now commonplace, and one wonders whether yet another study was really needed to remind us that dieting is at best ineffective and at worst highly damaging to the mental and physical health of adolescent females.
Both USA Today and ABC News conclude their reports with the now familiar platitudes exhorting teenagers to stop inappropriate dieting and instead adopt a 'healthy lifestyle' involving 'proper eating'. Neither report seems to notice the fact that the rise in both obesity and eating disorders has coincided with relentless authoritarian 'healthy eating' campaigns propounding exactly these messages, and that the health establishment's moralistic obsession with diet and weight issues is widely recognised as a contributing factor (see Teenage Dieting – link). When will the health educators finally wise up to the fact that obesity and eating disorders have not increased 'despite' their constant campaigning, but perhaps because of it?