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Definition of Dieting/Body Image Variation

Resource Type

Parent Handouts and Info - Parent


Dieting/Body Image Variation is a label used for children who diet or skip meals but still have a realistic body image. They may throw out their lunch at school or skip meals. Children with this label can stop dieting if they want to. Only children with much bigger issues have an eating problem.


All Ages

Age Groups

Preschool/Kindergarten (3-5), School Age (6-12)

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Dieting/Body Image Variation

Dieting/Body Image Variation

You said that you were concerned about your child's dieting or body image. Your child may be on a diet because s/he is overweight and needs to lose weight. If so, it might be a good idea for him/her to eat less sweets or fats.

It may be, however, that your child's weight is okay, but s/he wishes s/he were thinner. S/he may diet for short periods of time or skip desserts or snacks. S/he may even throw out his/her lunch at school once in a while. Your child may do this because he/she sees other kids at school eating less or skipping lunch. If your child is almost a teenager, it is important to keep an eye on what (and how much) s/he eats. Doing these things-once in a while is pretty normal.

Warning signs that things are getting worse

Your child:

  • Begins eating less and less and talks often about dieting
  • Is not gaining enough weight for his/her age
  • Is losing weight
  • Thinks and talks about being thin all the time
  • Develops a fear of gaining weight

If you think these things are getting worse, talk to your child's doctor even if you have talked about it before.

American Academy of Pediatrics (1996). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Primary Care. Elk Grove Village, Illinois: Author.

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