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Croat Med J. 2008 Apr;49(2):233-42.

Body image and weight control among adolescents in Lithuania, Croatia, and the United States in the context of global obesity.

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1
Institute for Biomedical Research of Kaunas University of Medicine, Eiveniu str. 4, LT - 50009, Kaunas - 7 Lithuania. socped@kmu.lt

Abstract

AIM:

To compare body image and weight control behavior among adolescents in Lithuania, Croatia, and the United States (US), the countries with striking contrasts in the prevalence of overweight among adolescents.

METHOD:

The study was carried out according to the methodology of the Health Behavior in School-aged Children collaborative survey. Nationally-representative samples of students, aged 13 and 15, were surveyed in Lithuania (3778 respondents), Croatia (2946 respondents), and the US (3546 respondents) in the 2001/2002 school year.

RESULTS:

In all three countries, girls perceived themselves as being "too fat" more frequently than boys (37.0% vs 19.7%, P<0.001, z test). The prevalence of this perception increased with age among girls (32.7% vs 41.1%, P<0.001, z test) and decreased among boys (21.4% vs 17.9%, P=0.005, z test). Lithuanian adolescents were least likely to perceive themselves as "too fat;" this perception was significantly more frequent in Croatia and the US (24.2%, 27.5%, and 34.3%, respectively; P<0.001, chi(2) test). With the exception of 15-year-old Lithuanian boys, in all respondents the proportion of adolescents with body mass index (BMI) > or =85th percentile who perceived themselves as "too fat" was significantly higher (up to 3.13 times among 15-year-old US girls) than the proportion of adolescents with BMI < or =15th percentile who perceived themselves as "too thin." The highest proportion of overweight boys and girls on a diet or doing something else to lose weight was found in the US. Boys in Lithuania were most likely to be satisfied with their weight regardless of their weight status.

CONCLUSION:

Perceived body image and weight control behavior differ among adolescents in Lithuania, Croatia, and the US. Cross-cultural, age, and sex influences moderate body image and weight control behavior in underweight and overweight adolescents.

PMID:
18461679
PMCID:
PMC2359876
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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