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Prev Med. 2012 Jan;54(1):77-81. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2011.10.003. Epub 2011 Oct 15.

Secular trends in weight status and weight-related attitudes and behaviors in adolescents from 1999 to 2010.

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Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, 1300 South Second Street, Suite 300, Minneapolis, MN 55454, USA.



To examine secular trends from 1999 to 2010 in weight status and weight-related attitudes and behaviors among adolescents.


A repeated cross-sectional design was used. Participants were from Minneapolis/St. Paul middle schools and high schools and included 3072 adolescents in 1999 (mean age 14.6 ± 1.8) and 2793 adolescents in 2010 (mean age 14.4 ± 2.0). Trends in weight-related variables were examined using inverse probability weighting to control for changes in socio-demographics over time.


The prevalence of obesity among boys increased by 7.8% from 1999 to 2010, with large ethnic/racial disparities. In black boys the prevalence of obesity increased from 14.4% to 21.5% and among Hispanic boys, obesity prevalence increased from 19.7% to 33.6%. Trends were more positive among girls: weight status did not significantly increase, perceptions of overweight status were more accurate, the use of healthy weight control behaviors remained high, dieting decreased by 6.7%, unhealthy weight control behaviors decreased by 8.2% and extreme weight control behaviors decreased by 4.5%.


Trends indicate a need to intensify efforts to prevent obesity and other weight-related problems, particularly for boys from ethnic/racial minorities. The decreases in unhealthy weight control behaviors among girls are encouraging.

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