Yo-Yo Dieting & Teens: Up and down weight has health impact

17 year old Anela Praycic is like a lot of teenagers these days that diet, lose weight and then gain it right back.

"I've done it,” Anela said. “I've lost five to ten pounds at the least and at the most like fifteen and I thought it wasn't going to come back, but it did."

Anela is in good company--a new study that spanned ten years in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that teenagers who yo-yo diet for long periods of time end up with higher body mass indexes later in life.

Texas Health Plano registered-licensed dietitian Marlene Rowan said she isn’t surprised by the study.

"Most people have been yo-yo dieting for years,” Rowan said. “Most of them quit eating breakfast, maybe lunch. Most of their calories are taken in at the end of the day and most of these people wind up being overweight."

Rowan said that yo-yo dieting during teenage years is also bad because that's when kids need extra nutrients the most.

If kids reduce dairy to lose weight they're also reducing calcium and may run the risk of having bones that aren't as strong as they should be.

And then there is the emotional impact.

"Losing weight, gaining it back, guilty feelings. Losing weight, gaining back more, more guilty feelings,” Rowan said. “It's not good for their self esteem."

Researchers also found that kids who yo-yo dieted reported skipping meals, using food substitutes and diet pills.

Other studies have found that yo-yo dieting isn't as bad as health experts once thought but Rowan said if teens just forget about fad diets and concentrate on a healthy lifestyle they’ll be more likely to have success.

"What would be great is people would start at an early age, the parents teaching their kids about healthy, good nutritional choices and the fact that we need exercise every day,” Rowan said. “That's a lifestyle."

Anela said she loses weight during the basketball season, then gains it back by exercising less and eat more junk food.

"I just keep going back and forth with it," Anela said.

Join the crowd Anela.