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While the media regularly runs stories about the obesity epidemic in America, many parents are facing an issue with their children under-eating rather than over-eating. Pressure from the media, friends, family and others to be thin is causing many kids to eat scant amounts of food that barely provide sufficient calories to support their active lifestyles. Kids who have an ideal body weight or who are even underweight my medical standards are dieting. If you are like many other parents, you may be concerned about the limited number of calories that your teen is consuming.

Pressure to Be Thin

While some kids are overweight, many others are literally starving themselves to be thing and to fit the media’s stereotypical image of what an attractive teen should look like. Teens are faced with media pressure, but they also are pressuring each other. In cafeterias in schools across America, kids are criticizing what other people are eating and citing their meal choices as a reason for their physical appearance. This pressure is nothing new, but what is new is the use of social media as a source of peer pressure. Through popular teen social media outlets like Instagram and Facebook, teens are openly talking about their appearance and the appearance of others. With so much attention drawn to their bodies, some teens have resorted to eating the bare minimum their bodies need.

A Possible Health Issue

As a parent, watching your child who once may have had normal, healthy eating habits begin to be a picky eater or to barely eat at all can be alarming. However, it is important to note that peer pressure to be thin is not the only reason why your teen may not be eating. It is important to talk to your teen about health symptoms if you notice that he is not eating normally. Ask about stomach pains, back pains, nausea, changes in bowel habits, pain when urinating and more. Loss of weight, loss of appetite and other related symptoms can be signs of serious health issues. It may be easy to blame the media on your child’s change in eating habits, but some kids may have changed their eating habits for other reasons.

With this in mind, if your child has suddenly changed his or her eating habits, talk to your child and your child’s doctor about what is happening. It can be difficult to control what your teen eats, but you can be proactive in encouraging healthy eating habits as well as in recognizing signs of a serious health condition early on.

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