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Losing Weight Not the Key to Happiness for Overweight Teens

Psych Central, reporting on a study from Purdue University on teenage girls and weight loss, noted surprising findings  – among both Caucasian and African American teenage girls who had recently lost a significant portion of their body mass, many still continued to see themselves as being overweight.  As reported by the site, the study, which looks at the psychological effects of losing weight after being obese, coincides with recent efforts to reduce obesity rates among the young population.  Reported Psych Central, “Reducing obesity among children and teens is a major policy objective for health professionals.  Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about 17 percent of American children aged 2-19 are obese.”

The study, published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, is based on data from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Growth and Health Study.  As reported in the article, Purdue researcher, Sarah A. Mustillo was surprised at the results of the study herself, and determined that providing mental health treatment when treating obesity could be key for teenage girls while they are still in the process of losing weight and transitioning to a healthy size, “…providing mental health assistance during the weight loss process could be a benefit.  Understanding and addressing body image and identity and self-esteem issues could ultimately help keep the weight off.  Why keep dieting and exercising if you are still going to see yourself as fat?”  Psych Central reported, quoting Mustillo.

In a country where both childhood and adult obesity has been on the rise in recent years, it’s important to take into consideration how this affects all aspects of a person’s well-being and not just the physical impact losing weight has, “In her future research, Mustillo will ascertain if there are certain periods during adolescence when individuals are more vulnerable to the mental health stigma associated with obesity. “  quoted Psych Central.  The results of the study indicate what researchers have known for years, which is that all weight issues, including obesity, have a large mental component to them that should be considered during the treatment process.