Fasting phenom: How teens are being force fed society’s dangerous dieting trends


Caitlin Crome

Whole grains, fruits and vegetables have been recommended as some of the best foods to eat while achieving a healthy lifestyle.

Caitlin Crome, P.V Editor

“Lose 10 pounds in a week”… “Tone your stomach in just one day.” From scrolling through Instagram to watching commercials on TV, students see such promises everywhere.

Celebrities and influencers are the face of many popular dieting trends, promoting the idea of becoming the best version of you.

But health professionals argue the validity of such claims, instead concluding the cons of fad diets far outweigh any positive results.

Being a teen in today’s society is difficult because of the heightened vulnerability and the pressures to fit in. And unfortunately, most of society has concluded that being thin is all that’s in.

Jillian Kubala, a writer for Healthline and apart of their nutrition team, stated it is important to understand that diets—especially restrictive fad diets—rarely work long term and can even be harmful to health. “Overly restrictive diets are hard to stick to and seldom deliver all of the nutrients the teenage body needs to function at an optimal level,” said Kubala. 

Yet what is even more scary is that about one-half of teenage girls and one-quarter of teenage boys have tried dieting to change the shape of their body. 

Promoting dieting in teenagers, whether through promoting or modeling dieting behaviors, can lead to lifelong problems with weight and self-esteem. As well as to a high probability that those teenagers will pass unhealthy dieting messages to their own children.

Currently one of the most popular fad diets is intermittent fasting (IF). IF is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. There are multiple different ways to go about this diet. Each one seeming more extensive than the next. 

This diet has also been showcased on national news by hosts Jenna Bush Hager and Hoda Kotb on the TODAY show. The show hosts are not totally focused on losing weight. In fact, Hager said the two are doing it “to be healthy,” in contrast to the majority of people who have tried the fad. 

But with all of this publicity surrounding unconventional forms of dieting, many wonder if it is even healthy. This uncertainty leaves many trying to understand when and how diets should be used properly.

Becoming vegan has also been a popular dieting trend in the past few years. Veganism is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet. 

Senior Olivia Marchiori has been vegan for almost a year, but did not start to try and lose weight. “I saw videos about how they mistreat the animals in not only the meat industry but in the dairy industry, and so I thought, why not,” said Marchiori.  

When it comes to living a healthy lifestyle, many believe they should  start with trying to lose those few extra pounds. Marchiori advised that making smarter choices is the better way to think. “Whenever I think about what snacks I want, now I mostly go towards vegetables or fruits instead of going towards cheese or a pasta of some sort,” she said. 

Marchiori had also previously tried intermittent fasting and found it unattainable long term. “I had tried it for about two weeks and lost a lot of weight, but it was also pretty hard to commit to,” she said. 

Now that our society lives in a time when technology is advancing, dieting is, too. Studies are concluding that social media has become the newest tool in encouraging positive health practices. In an article from People magazine, Juliana Wells, who is now a senior in high school, suggested the more tech savvy approach.

At the age of 15, Wells decided to try the Kurbo app, which Weight Watchers acquired in 2018 and relaunched this month. Through the program, she worked with a coach and learned portion control and changed her food choices, along with increasing her exercise.

“Apps don’t make kids feel pressured,” Wells said. “It’s society in general. If a child is motivated to focus on their well-being, there’s no reason to stop them.”

Kubala believes the right mindset should be remembering that having a truly healthy body doesn’t mean hitting a certain weight or fitting into a certain size. Instead she advises teens to focus on nourishing their bodies with nutritious foods and taking care of it with physical activity and most importantly, self-love.