Photo by Tom Sharrow/

Many people desire to lose weight. The surest solution to a healthy weight is a sustainably healthy diet alongside healthy exercise habits. Unfortunately, the appeal of a “quick fix” or “simple solution” leads many to unhealthy, unsustainable, and even unsafe habits.

In July 2018, two researchers affiliated with Concordia University in Montreal released a literature review surveying the results of nineteen different studies. The authors’ intended “to examine the literature on sex differences in weight loss intentions and strategies in children and adolescent observational studies,” focusing in on whether there is a difference in approach between sex, demography, and weight status.1 Although they found plenty of shortcomings in the current state of weight loss research, one thing is clear: too many young people—especially female—are choosing unsafe dietary practices.

How are youth approaching their weight?

In their survey, the authors classified exercise and dietary changes as healthy weight loss strategies. Unhealthy strategies included skipping meals and fasting, and diet pills or aids were given as examples of extreme approaches.

Unfortunately, the studies they reviewed found that, in some segments of population, as many as 44 percent of young people have used unhealthy dieting practices, and as many as 13 percent have used extreme methods. Now, these numbers come from studies that drilled in to narrow segments of the population (for example, a particular high school or ethnic group). The fact that the number of youth who are choosing unsafe dieting practices is this high should concern us greatly. In many cases, children and youth do not understand how to approach weight loss in a healthy way.

What leads youth into unhealthy dieting practices?

According to the study, “up to two-thirds of youth report trying to lose weight.” Most studies concluded that desired appearance changes drive the intention to lose weight more than any other factor. As a result, the authors concluded that “additional efforts are needed to promote healthy body shape and body image in young females, to supplement the promotion of health. Doing so is likely to decrease the frequency with which youth are engaging in these dangerous behaviors.” When a young person misunderstands health and prioritizes appearance, they may soon find themselves choosing actions that are dangerous to their wellbeing. The authors called for further study into the impact that mainstream and social media play in contributing to unrealistic ideas of body shape.

What message do we want youth to hear?

Ultimately, a healthy, sustainable diet, along with responsible exercise, is the key to losing weight. For many Americans, patterns of unhealthy eating have led to a severe obesity problem. For anyone who is overweight, significant diet change is often warranted. However, for sustainable change to take place, a person must understand the why behind what they eat. As the United States Health Department notes, diets too high in unhealthy fats and sugars are incredibly detrimental to a person’s health.2 In the end, perhaps our conclusion to take away from this study is this: diet ought to be chosen foremost by healthy choices, and there is much we can do to help the next generation understand what that looks like.


The content on this website should not be taken as medical advice and you should ALWAYS consult with your doctor before starting any diet or exercise program. We provide nutritional data for our recipes as a courtesy to our readers. We use Total Keto Diet app software to calculate the nutrition and we remove fiber and sugar alcohols, like erythritol, from the total carbohydrate count to get to the net carb count, as they do not affect your blood glucose levels. You should independently calculate nutritional information on your own and not rely on our data. The website or content herein is not intended to cure, prevent, diagnose or treat any disease. This website shall not be liable for adverse reactions or any other outcome resulting from the use of recipes or recommendations on the Website or actions you take as a result. Any action you take is strictly at your own risk.

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