vere dieters (Rome et al., 2003). Sociocultural and environmental factors as they relate to ideal body shape are thought to play an important role in the development of eating disorders. Eating disorders are more common in countries and cultures where female thinness is associated with attractiveness (Rome et al., 2003).

More common in the preadolescent and adolescent population are dieting and disordered eating behaviors. Dieting is a common and widespread practice especially among girls. Nationwide in 2005, 62 percent of high school girls (whites, 64 percent; African Americans, 53 percent; Hispanics, 64 percent) reported trying to lose weight during the 30 days preceding the survey. Thirty percent of high school boys were trying to lose weight (Eaton et al., 2006). Nearly 17 percent of females had gone without eating for 24 hours or more, 8 percent had taken diet pills, and 6 percent had induced vomiting or taken laxatives to lose weight during the previous 30 days (Eaton et al., 2006). Studies have shown that adolescent girls using unhealthy weight control behaviors consume fewer fruits, vegetables, and grains, and have lower intakes of calcium, iron, and other micronutrients compared to girls using healthy weight control methods or not dieting (Neumark-Sztainer et al., 2004; Story et al., 1998). A recent longitudinal study of adolescents found that dieting and unhealthy weight control behaviors among adolescents predicted weight gain, obesity status, disordered eating, and risk of eating disorder five years later (Neumark-Sztainer et al., 2006). These studies suggest that a shift is needed away from dieting and drastic weight control measures and toward lifelong healthful eating and weight control behaviors and physical activity behaviors.


Are Children’s Diets Meeting the Dietary Guidelines for Americans?

The general dietary recommendations for those aged two years and older in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) (DHHS/USDA, 2005) emphasize a diet that relies primarily on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat and nonfat dairy products, beans, fish, and lean meat. The guidelines stress meeting recommended dietary intakes within energy needs; consuming a variety of nutrient-dense foods and beverages; and limiting intakes of total, saturated, and trans fat, cholesterol, salt, and added sugars. The guidelines, as they pertain to children and adolescents, are consistent with other dietary recommendations for children and adolescents put forth by the American Heart Association (Gidding et al., 2005) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP, 2004b).

Despite the importance of healthful eating patterns during childhood and adolescence, studies have consistently shown that this group has poor

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