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Pediatrics. 1996 Jul;98(1):63-70.

Weight modification efforts reported by black and white preadolescent girls: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Growth and Health Study.

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  • 1Westat, Inc, Rockville, Maryland, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

This study tested four hypotheses: (1) a high percentage of 9- and 10-year-old girls are already trying to lose weight; (2) more white tha black girls are trying to lose weight; (3) more black than white girls are trying to gain weight; and (4) weight modification efforts of preadolescent girls are influenced by factors other than race, such as maternal criticism, body dissatisfaction, and socioeconomic status.

DESIGN:

Cross-sectional analysis of baseline data on 2379 girls 9 and 10 years of age, which consisted of 1213 black and 1166 white enrollees.

RESULTS:

Black girls were taller and heavier and showed earlier signs of puberty than white girls but were less dissatisfied with their weight, body shape, and body parts. Approximately 40% of 9- and 10-year-old girls reported that they were trying to lose weight. Of those girls classified in the fourth quartile of body mass index (BMI), approximately 75% were trying to lose weight. After adjusting for BMI, no significant black and white differences in the prevalence of those trying to lose weight were seen, but significantly more black than white girls were trying to gain weight. Multiple logistic regression identified a high BMI, the mother telling her she was too fat, and body dissatisfaction as the major factors associated with trying to lose weight. However, chronic dieting was only associated with a high BMI and the mother telling her she was too fat. An important predictor of girls who were trying to gain weight was being black, along with having a low BMI and the mother telling her she was too thin.

CONCLUSIONS:

Attempts at gaining weight are much more frequent among black preadolescent girls than their white counterparts. No racial difference was found between black and white girls in their efforts to lose weight or to practice chronic dieting. Because approximately 40% of 9- and 10-year-old girls are already trying to lose weight, pediatricians should capitalize on this concern by providing information on proper weight control techniques. Educational efforts should be directed to both the mother and the child, because weight control efforts of preadolescent girls are stimulated by their mothers' admonitions of being too fat or too thin. The high prevalence of dieting among the thinnest adolescent girls also needs to be addressed by pediatricians.

PMID:
8668414
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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