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Health Psychol. 1987;6(2):131-47.

Prevalence of weight reducing and weight gaining in adolescent girls and boys.


This is a survey of the prevalence of weight reducing and weight gaining in high school children. Our sample of 1,373 high school girls and boys was geographically, racially, and economically diverse. On the day of the survey, 63% of the girls and 16.2% of the boys reported being on weight reducing regimens; 9.1% of the girls and 28.4% of the boys were trying to gain weight. Most female reducers and male gainers were already normal weight. Compared to other racial groups, whites and Hispanics were more likely to be reducing, whereas blacks were more likely to be gaining. Exercise and moderate caloric reduction were most popular for weight reducing, and a small but significant number were regularly using fasting, vomiting, laxatives, and appetite suppressants. The direction of weight modification for girls and boys conformed to stereotyped physical ideals. The rate of weight reducing in female high school adolescents has increased significantly since similar surveys of American youths 20 years ago.

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