May 2016 | | 1-888-376-7136

[Volume 8, Issue 5]

Social Media, Body Image and Eating Problems

Social media has become a big part of our lives. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram, are all examples that I think most people recognize. Young people have had social media in some form for all of their lives - that means they're constantly exposed to ads, celebrities, photo-shopped pictures of models. Social media is by no means a bad thing, but there are some things to think about.

Greater social media use tied to higher risk of eating and body image concerns in young adults

This news story from Medical News Today describes a study done by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in which the researchers found that study participants who spent the most time on social media every day were more than twice as likely to have eating and body image concerns.

Although it's tempting to make such a connection, the study can't say that social media causes these issues. It could be that people with body image and eating concerns are also more likely to seek out images, news and resources to deal with those concerns.

The thing to know is that while there are plenty of helpful and healthy resources on social media, there are also groups that promote eating disorders and body shaming. Those aren't helpful at all.

Nutrition and Sports

The foods we eat are important for how our bodies work. That's true for those of us who spend most of our time at a desk and need to make time for exercise and it's also true for well-trained athletes.

It used to be that high school athletes just ate everything and anything. Calorie burning didn't seem to be much of an issue and kids usually didn't think about food quality - but that's changing.

The new performance enhancer in high school sports? Nutrition

This blog post from Well in the New York Times talks about the importance of eating right and athletic performance. More and more schools are teaching athletes how to take their diets seriously.

What to do at school:

  • Have a dietitian work with your athletes to help them know what they should be eating.
  • Talk about healthy foods and optimum performance - why good foods mean more energy, stamina and strength.
  • Keep an eye out for possible disordered eating patterns, especially when athletes become concerned about body fat levels.
Fast Casual Restaurant Foods Have More Calories Than Fast Foods

Fast food meals are known to be high in calories per serving so consumers will often choose fast casual restaurants with the idea of consuming better foods and less calories. But, one study shows that meals at places like Panera Bread and Chipotle are higher in calories than typical fast food entrees.

Fast casual restaurant entrées higher in calories than fast food

This story from Science Daily describes a study don't at the University of Carolina. The researchers looked at calorie counts of typical meals at fast casual restaurants and compared them to established fast food meals.

Fast casual dining is a new category. It's still fast and you order your food at a counter, but it's not the standard burger and fries or fried chicken menu that we typically associate with fast foods.

These restaurants often promote themselves as healthier options but maybe not - at least as far as calories go.

What to do at school:

  • Talk about food quality, calorie counts and what makes a healthy meal.
  • Have kids look up the calorie counts and nutrition information for fast casual restaurants.
  • Talk about healthier options that kids (and adults) can find on those menus.
Nutrition Rules to Live By

I've been writing about nutrition for more than 10 years so I've seen a few fad diets and nutrition trends come and go.

But whether you're into paleo or a confirmed vegan, there are some simple rules to follow especially if you're looking to lose weight and still eat a healthy diet.

6 nutritional rules that everyone can agree upon

This news story from the Los Angeles Times presents 6 nutritional rules to live by. They're mostly focused on weight loss, but I think they're all good. For example, portion sizes have gone crazy over the past 20 years and in order to lose weight you need to know how much food you're eating every day.

And, I like the rule that even healthy foods can trigger binges. Avocado is good for you, but they're also high in calories. Be sure to balance the high-calorie foods with low-calorie high-fiber foods like green and other colorful veggies.

Does Eating Late Lead to Obesity in Kids? Maybe Not

Eating too much food certainly results in excessive calorie intake, so there's always concern that nibbling on foods after dinner might be one way kids (and adults) over eat. It's also possible that meal timing and metabolism are interconnected. But a new study suggests eating dinners late at night isn't a reason kids become obese.

No link between eating dinner after 8pm, obesity in children

This news story from Science Daily describes a British study that looked at eating times and any possible associations with obesity in kids ages 4 to 18 years. The researchers examined the eating habits of over 1500 kids from the UK and found that kids who ate dinner after 8 pm were no more likely to be obese than kids who ate earlier dinners.

What to do at school:

  • Talk about why eating a healthy dinner is important.
  • Let parents know that timing may not matter, so if late dinners work for the family, it's okay.
  • In foods classes, have kids find recipes and meals that are easy to make, even when dinner time runs late.
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More About School Lunches, Nutrition and Healthy Kids

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What does the new nutrition facts panel mean for you? Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics explains changes

New reasons why you should keep a food journal

Americans could prevent roughly half of all cancer deaths by doing these four things

About Shereen Lehman

Shereen Lehman is a health and nutrition writer with two decades of experience counseling people on nutrition and diet. She has a master's degree in human nutrition and is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Association of Health Care Journalists.

Shereen writes about nutrition for the large website (, is co-author of Superfoods for Dummies ( and Clinical Anatomy for Dummies ( She also teaches Evidence Based Nutrition to nutrition graduate students at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut.