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J Adolesc Health. 1998 Jan;22(1):37-42.

Eating patterns, physical activity, and attempts to change weight among adolescents.

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  • 1Adolescent Medicine and Sports Medicine Section, Texas Children's Hospital, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, USA.



To determine eating patterns and demographic and dietary factors associated with adolescents' attempts to change weight.


Data from students participating in the Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) were analyzed. Race, age, school grade, academic achievement, gender, body image, eating patterns, level of exercise, participation in team sports, cigarette use, diet pill use, and vomiting were examined. The weighted sample included 3055 students: 49% female and 78% white. Mean age was 16 years (+/- 1.2 years). Associations were measured using Spearman's r, Chi-square, Mantel-Haenszel test for trend, and logistic regression analyses.


A total of 61.5% of females and 21.5% of males reported trying to lose weight; 6.8% of females and 36.3% of males were trying to gain weight. There was a strong correlation (r = 0.62, p < 0.0001) between attempting to gain weight and self-perception of underweight for both genders. Females reported having changed their intake of several foods if attempting to change weight; males changed their intake of dessert foods. Hard exercise, stretching, and toning were associated with trying to lose weight among females and with trying to gain weight among males.


High-calorie food consumption and exercise were associated with attempts at weight change. Unhealthy eating to change weight highlights the need for effective nutrition and weight counseling among adolescents.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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