The Use of Diet Pills among Adolescent Girls Dieting is a common occurrence in our country, but dieting is most common among adolescent girls. Since millions of Americans try to lose weight every year, many of them turn to weight-loss pills for help (MFMER 2004). Dieting may place the risk of using unhealthy weight control behaviors such as diet pills (Eisenberg, Neumark-Sztainer, Story, & Perry 2004). A study by the CDC showed that 10. 9 percent of adolescent girls use diet pills as their weight-loss strategy (Eisenberg, Neumark-Sztainer, Story, & Perry 2004). The study showed that 10.

9 percent of adolescent girls use diet pills as their weight-loss strategy (Eisenberg, Neumark-Sztainer, Story, & Perry 2004). The quest for weight loss and the use of this weight-loss strategy is thought to be an unhealthy weight behavior that is led from the consumer world (Eisenberg, Neumark-Sztainer, Story, & Perry 2004). The appeal of losing weight quickly is often too hard to pass up (MFMER 2004). During early adolescence, the onset of body dissatisfaction, dieting, and other problem weight loss behavior occurs (Garry, Morrissey, and Whetstone 2002). In a weight-centered approach to health, thinness is viewed as a crucial goal for optimum health, and thus one to be strive d by all, including starting at an early age (Cogan 1999). As much as 40 percent to 70 percent of the US population is trying to lose weight at any given time, with young women being the most likely to be struggling with their weight (Cogan 1999).

According to the Center for disease control, 59. 4 percent of adolescent girls report trying to lose weight in the past 30 days (Eisenberg, Neumark-Sztainer, Story, & Perry 2004). Studies of middle school students have reported that between 30 percent and 55 percent have dieted at some time (Eisenberg, Neumark-Sztainer, Story, & Perry 2004). Also a recent review in 2004 indicated that 41 to 66 percent of teenage girls have attempted the use of a weight loss strategy to achieve their goal (Dieting 2004). About one third of normal dieter's progress to other problem dieting behaviors using tactics such as diet pills (Eisenberg, Neumark-Sztainer, Story, & Perry 2004). The use of diet pills to lose weight or to keep from gaining weight was reported by 7.

1 percent of students in a study conducted 5, 770 students (Eisenberg, Neumark-Sztainer, Story, & Perry 2004). It is estimated that the amount of money spent on weight loss products such as diet pills is more than $33 billion annually (Cogan 1999). An unintended outcome of the current weight-centered approach toward health is that in the United States people, especially teenagers, are literally dying to be thin through weight-loss drugs (Cogan 1999). "Diverse adverse effects of weight-loss programs and dangerous weight-loss strategies such as prescription and over-the-counter diet pills, pose serious health risks (Cogan 1999). When taking a weight-loss supplement, the individual still has to eat fewer calories than burned in order to lose weight (MFMER 2004). Even if these products help you lose weight initially, the individual would have to continue taking the in order for the weight to stay off, which is neither practical nor safe (MFMER 2004).

"A number of weight-loss aids are available at your local drugstore, supermarket, and health food store. Most haven't been proved safe and effective, and some are downright dangerous." (MFMER 2004) Research has suggested that social factors, including friends and broader cultural norms, may be associated with the onset of using diet pills among adolescents (Eisenberg, Neumark-Sztainer, Story, & Perry 2004). Researchers have begun to uncover the social factors that affect an adolescent's decision to start taking diet pills as a weight-loss strategy (Eisenberg, Neumark-Sztainer, Story, & Perry 2004). These social factors include direct persuasion from parents, social norms from the media, and need to fit in with peers (Eisenberg, Neumark-Sztainer, Story, & Perry 2004). Also, through media exposure, teenagers are also exposed to a number of ways to lose weight, and one of the most popular ways is to consume weight-loss pills (Findlay 2004). The socio-cultural value of thinness may also be related to the onset of this unhealthy-weight behavior (Eisenberg, Neumark-Sztainer, Story, & Perry 2004).

Exposure to media images of thin women have also been shown to contribute to poor body image and ultimatum in buying diet pills (Eisenberg, Neumark-Sztainer, Story, & Perry 2004). Media exposure helps teenagers learn of numbers of ways and product to lose weight and achieve the thin ideal (Dieting 2004). "The damaging effects of the thinness pursuit are a growing social problem and public health threat causing concern for many health professionals." (Cogan 1999) The depiction of only thin female images in the media has a negative psychological impact on adolescent teenagers; moreover, it may lead them to purchase weigh-loss pills (Cogan 1999). The exposure to these types of messages from the media, lead adolescents to develop negative body images and eating disorders, and the drive to find a significant weight-loss strategy (Cogan 1999). In addition to being exposed to the very real health risks of obesity and poor nutrition, teenagers are being exposed to the unrealistically thin beauty ideal that is portrayed in the media (Findlay 2004). Also, most of the products and sources of information on health and nutrition exposed through the media are often dubious and unreliable; they are motivated less by scientific evidence than by fad trends and financial incentives (Dieting 2004).

Social influences take a great part in inducing adolescents in consuming diet pills to lose weight. The role that peers and friends have as social influences to dieters is extremely important (Eisenberg, Neumark-Sztainer, Story, & Perry 2004). "Peer group influence also has an impact because girls whose friends value thinness and engage in unhealthy weight loss strategies are also themselves more likely to engage in unhealthy weight practices." (Dieting 2004) Several researchers have demonstrated the important influence of friends, suggesting that the weight-related attitudes and behaviors among friendship groups may predict body image, dieting onset, chronic dieting, and the decision of purchasing certain diet pills (Eisenberg, Neumark-Sztainer, Story, & Perry 2004). Studies have also shown that parental criticism of a child's weight, pressure to diet, and parental role modeling of dieting and using diet pills are associated with increased rate of extreme dieting behaviors such as pill use, among their kids (Dieting 2004). Friends tend to share information on weight-control strategies; therefore, having a direct influence over their peer (Eisenberg, Neumark-Sztainer, Story, & Perry 2004). Peer influence may also operate in terms of a larger aspect such as school environment (Eisenberg, Neumark-Sztainer, Story, & Perry 2004).

The decision to get on weight-control pills may come from weight-teasing from peers (Eisenberg, Neumark-Sztainer, Story, & Perry 2004). A history of weight-related teasing is also predictive of body dissatisfaction, weigh loss attempts, and eating disturbances (Dieting 2004). "Children are 'afraid to eat' and afraid of being fat, teased, and taunted." (Cogan 1999) The social norms, through which peers operate their influence, send a subtle message to adolescents that weight-loss pills are accepted and indeed expected to be successful (Eisenberg, Neumark-Sztainer, Story, & Perry 2004). Helping adolescents avoid consuming these weight-loss pills is not a very easy job, since they are convinced that they will be successful. By educating these adolescents on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle and the proper way of losing weight, they would be making informed decisions when choosing to buy weight-loss pills. According to researchers from Mayo Clinic staff, there's no magic bullet for losing weight; the only way to lose weight and keep it off is through permanent lifestyle changes (MFMER 2004).

By eating healthier food, watching portion sizes, and exercising regularly adolescents can learn to maintain a healthy lifestyle that will eventually allow them to lose the weight they need (MFMER 2004). If adolescents are concerned about their weight, they should first speak to their doctors (MFMER 2004). Once they have spoken to their doctor, the usual recommendations to lose weight include eating a healthy diet based on a variety of foods, and exercising to control their weight (MFMER 2004). Using weight-loss pills would cause more harm than good; therefore, eating healthy and exercising are the most reliable recommendations (MFMER 2004). Physical activity helps you control your weight by using excess calories that would otherwise be stored as fat (NIH 2004). Experts recommend that an individual should have at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days of the week (NIH 2004).

Physical activity may include structured activities such as walking, running, basketball, or other sports. It may also include daily activities such as household chores, yard work, or walking the dog (NIH 2004). All normal and over-weight teenagers should be encouraged with age-appropriate physical activity in accordance with healthy active living guidelines; not only will they learn to live healthy, but also exercise to maintain their weight (Dieting 2004). Adolescents should also base their nutritional values in order to lose weight. Parents and teachers should encourage teenagers to eating according to the nutritional food guide pyramid (Dieting 2004). They should be advised to discourage fad diets, fasting, skipping meals, and taking diet pills to achieve weight loss (Dieting 2004).

They should be aware that eating properly and in good portions will help them achieve healthy weight loss in contrast to using weight loss schemes such as pills, which could be dangerous (Dieting 2004). Dieting adolescents should be educated about the health risks of diet pills; they will learn of their unreliability and their cost (Dieting 2004). Since many teenagers feel the cultural pressure to be thinner than is required for good health, they try to achieve this goal through poor and sometimes dangerous nutritional choices (Dieting 2004). One of these choices includes purchasing diet pills to achieve their goal. Among American adolescents three to ten percent of adolescent girls are using diet pills to achieve weight loss (Dieting 2004). The use of diet pills is on the rise and most of their promotion attracts the eye of those girls who are looking for quick alternatives for weight-loss.

Although adolescents will never conform to their bodies and their weight, helping them find healthy alternatives to weight loss and providing them with nutritional guidance can be achieved to avoid diet pill use. References: Cogan, Jeanine (1999). Dieting, Weight, and Health: Re conceptualizing Research and Policy. Journal of Social Issues, 55 (2), pp 187-205. Dieting in Adolescence. Pediatrics and Child Health, 9 (7), p 487 - 491.

Eisenberg, M. Neumark-Sztainer, D. , Story, M. , and C. Perry (2004). The Role of Social Norms and Friends' influences on Unhealthy Weight-control Behaviors among Adolescent Girls.

Social Science and Medicine, 60 (6), p 1165-1173. Garry, J. , Morrissey, S. , and L. Whetstone (2002). Substance Use and Weight Loss Tactics among Middle School Youth.

International Journal of Eating Disorders. MFMER: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (2004). Over-the-Counter weight-loss Products. MM FER.

National Institute of Health (2004). Physical Activity and Weight Control. National Institute of Health.