A new survey, out earlier this week, adds more evidence that dieting is rampant among teens. The study of 3,129 middle school kids showed that by eighth grade, 55% of girls think they're fat (only 13% are) and 50% have dieted. Among eighth grade boys: 28% think they're fat (13% are) and 25% have dieted.
Nutrition experts aren't surprised. ''By eighth grade there are full- fledged dieters out there,'' says Robyn Flipse, a dietitian in private practice in Ocean, N.J. She says parents often bring their children to her office for counseling.
In many cases, the weight problem is only in the parents' minds. Just recently Flipse saw a 10-year-old boy who was only seven pounds over his ideal weight.
It's perfectly normal for a child to have a growth spurt in weight and catch up in height later, she says.
''Parents get nervous if they see their child heading up the scale. For them it's almost like a social curse to have a fat child,'' she says.
If parents overreact to a child's weight, they can create a fat-kid mentality - that is, the child sees and thinks of himself as fat.
- Kids should see their parents eating normally and exercising regularly. ''Parents have to show they are in control of their own eating habits and are not resorting to real strict rules of deprivation.''
- Parents also need to point out to their