Promoting Healthy Habits Among Teens

Traditionally, eating disorders and obesity have been viewed as two extremes along the same continuum. While this may be true in terms of weight, these conditions share a lot in common with respect to nutrition and physical activity habits, as well as predisposing factors that lead to unhealthy changes in weight. 

The similarities, and the approaches clinicians should take to encourage teens to eating healthfully and be physically active, were highlighted in a recent paper in Pediatrics titled Preventing Obesity and Eating Disorders in Adolescents. A few highlights for clinicians include (1) focusing on optimizing lifestyle habits (which are more modifiable) in lieu of weight-focused discussions per se (which is more static) and (2) using purposeful, evidence-based communication strategies such as motivational interviewing to help teens make and maintain healthy changes.

This article extends clinical, research, and administrative activities that many people have worked on over the years to bridge the communities of health care professionals and academics working in these fields. For a historical, Canadian perspective on some seminal work in this area, click HERE for information about a Calgary-based conference held in 2007 that was designed to find ‘common ground’ between the eating disorders and obesity fields.

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