Obsessive exercise among teens could be risky

RosemaryM 17By Rosemary Marchese

Editor, B.A. Applied Sci (Physiotherapist)

Health experts are warning parents about the rising trend threatening eating disorders in teenagers with a rapid rise in social media accounts that promote thinness as a way of life. ‘Fitspo’ accounts with women flaunting their ‘bikini-ready’ bodies are easily accessed by vulnerable teens through social media and parents need to be tuning in to watch out for the signs that indicate that their teenager’s relationship with exercise and eating may be becoming unhealthy.

Body image and eating disorders are a huge problem for teens, especially teen girls, who are often easily influenced by appearances and are becoming a generation of body obsessed teens who are wrongly believing that that obsessive exercise and extreme eating habits are necessary to achieve the figures of the women they are following on social media accounts.

How does a parent know if their teen’s habits are becoming unhealthy?

There are so many signs to look for but each child is different. Parents need to be maintaining an open dialogue with their teens and keeping an eye out for any changes in behaviour or any tendencies towards extreme habits or obsessions with exercise or eating.

Exercise and eating habits go from healthy to unhealthy when:

  1. Social activities start getting missed in order to go exercise.
  2. There is anxiety associated with eating or exercise.
  3. Eating habits have moved from health conscious to obsessive.
  4. There is depression or aggression in the teen when an exercise session is missed. Negative self-talk may or may not be apparent.
  5. There is an obsession with the scales or other forms of self-monitoring.

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