Dieting at a young age can lead to bad relationships with food, experts say

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Teens, dieting and later obesity - Ali Gorman reports during Action News at 5pm on JUly 17, 2018. (WPVI)

For parents who have teenagers struggling with their weight, a new study shows encouraging them to diet is the wrong message and can have long-lasting negative effects.

Researchers followed more than 500 teens who had been told to diet.

Fifteen years later, they're more likely to be overweight and have problems with body image.

Experts say dieting at a young age can create a bad relationship with food.

Instead of focusing on what not to eat, it's better to focus on the health and nutrition that comes with eating well.

And also to practice mindful eating, meaning teaching kids to slow down, turn off devices and be more present while you eat.

"It's so important to give teens these skills at this juncture in their life and I talk to parents about tools, not rules. So moving away from food rules but really helping them change their habits around the way they eat," said Susan Albers, PsyD at the Cleveland Clinic.

Experts also recommend helping your teenager learn to manage stress by relaxing, reading or going for a walk, as opposed to turning to food. That will help steer them away from comfort-eating.

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