Magazines and television are filled with pictures of very thin girls and women. Teens and even young children come to see this body type as normal and desirable. They may diet, often to excess, to change their weight. The result can be a body weight that is too low, leading to medical problems and a distorted body image.
Some girls (and some boys, too) may take dieting and distorted body perception to extremes, becoming dangerously thin while still thinking that they’re “fat.” Others may eat too much at one sitting (bingeing) and then make themselves vomit or take laxatives (purging) to try to get an “ideal” body shape. For these groups of children and teens, their body image, weight, eating behaviours and relationship with food become very unhealthy. They are said to have eating disorders.