Prom pressure can be intense - - Jackson, MS

Prom pressure can be intense

By Erika Edwards
NBC News

Prom season can be a magical time for teen girls, dreaming about dressing up and dancing the night away. But for some, picturing themselves at prom leads to extreme exercise and dieting.

"There are a lot of girls who do crazy fad diets like the juice cleanse," said high school Senior, Kelly Vladivia. 

At Our Lady of Lourdes Academy in Miami, guidance counselors report an increase in students coming to their office with concerns about their appearance before big formal events. "Sometimes they'll show me a picture of the dress and say I'm losing weight cause I need to get into that dress," Counselor Lucy Blaco said. 

Dr. Mark Wulkan is the chief of surgery at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. He also sees an influx of teens this time of year seeking surgery as a way to drop pounds. He says for most kids, the desire to look pretty for prom is an opportunity to teach healthy habits. "We try not to focus as much on actual weight as we do health, but by being healthy one of the by-products is losing weight."

It's a message that doctors say needs to be reinforced at home, with parents serving as role models to their kids by eating well and getting moving. And at school, positive messages about body image go a long way when reinforced by peers. "It doesn't really matter at the end of the day what dress you wore, what heels you wore, what size you were -- I think as long as you're with your friends and you had a good time, that's what you're going to remember," high school Junior Daniela Flamini said.

Kelly Valdivia can attest to that, having gone to prom last year. "It's just how much fun you had and that's what really matters about prom."

Doctors say something easy teens can do to healthfully lose weight before prom is cut all sodas and sugar-sweetened drinks out of their diet. Right now, the average teen drinks 15% and 20% of their total calories.

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