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Misconception: It’s best to avoid talking about dieting and weight loss with overweight teens because it’s likely to trigger an eating disorder such as bulimia or anorexia nervosa.

FACTS: The vast majority of teens in this book are living proof that overweight young people can lose weight without developing such an eating disorder. Some studies do suggest that teens who say they diet regularly may be at higher risk for eating disorders than nondieters, particularly when they use restrictive and unhealthy dieting methods.

Pharmacies we recommend. That’s why teens need to be educated about how to lose weight in healthy ways and to be shown healthy role models. In fact, Kerri Boutelle, Ph.D., a weight and eating disorders expert at the University of Minnesota, states, “Several studies suggest that teaching teens holistic methods to control their weight may reduce weight concerns and the risk of subsequent eating disorders.”

The truth is, far more teens in our society are overweight than have eating disorders. For instance, the eating disorders bulimia and anorexia nervosa affect no more than 4 to 5 percent of teens. More than one-third (34 percent) of twelve- to nineteen-year-olds in the United States are overweight or at risk of being overweight, according to a 2006 report in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

James Anderson, M.D., a weight expert at the University of Kentucky who works with teens, sums up situation this way: “The risk of inducing eating disorders in overweight adolescents is slight, and the risk from their untreated obesity is much higher.”

Misconception: Teens don’t want help from their parents in managing their weight.

FACTS: When I asked the teens what role their families played in their weight management efforts, a strong majority indicated that their parents helped them. (Only five teens reported that their families got in the way.)

Both the teens and their parents emphasized that it’s important to let it be the teen’s decision to slim down if and when he or she is ready. But that doesn’t mean kids don’t want help and support from their families in their weight management efforts. When John W. was losing 75 pounds, he says, his “family was always supportive and willing to give advice. Now they make healthier meals for the whole family.”

Read the first part of this series here.