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J Adolesc Health. 2018 Oct 25. pii: S1054-139X(18)30417-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2018.09.002. [Epub ahead of print]

Boys, Bulk, and Body Ideals: Sex Differences in Weight-Gain Attempts Among Adolescents in the United States.

Author information

1
Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California. Electronic address: jasonmnagata@gmail.com.
2
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California; Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California.
3
Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California.
4
Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
5
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California.
6
Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To determine the prevalence of weight-gain attempts in adolescent boys in the United States.

METHODS:

Participants were 15,624 high school students from the nationally representative 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

RESULTS:

Overall, 29.6% of adolescent boys reported attempts to gain weight, including 39.6% of boys who were normal weight, 12.8% who were overweight, and 10.6% who were obese by body mass index (BMI). In contrast, only 6.5% of adolescent girls reported attempts to gain weight. Although only 3.3% of adolescent males are underweight by BMI, 19.3% perceive themselves to be underweight. Further, over half of adolescent males who are overweight by BMI perceive themselves to be about the right weight. Black/African-American (odds ratio [OR] 1.89; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.50-2.38) and multiracial (OR 1.62; 95% CI 1.16-2.26) adolescent males had greater odds of weight-gain attempts than white adolescent males. Adolescent males identifying as bisexual had lower odds (OR .47; 95% CI .25-.88) of weight-gain attempts than adolescent males identifying as heterosexual.

CONCLUSIONS:

Weight-gain attempts are common among adolescent boys including those who are considered normal weight, overweight, or obese by BMI; African-American or multiracial; and those self-identifying as heterosexual. Consideration of the unique nature of male body image, particularly adolescent boys' perceptions of their own weight and weight-gain attempts, should be incorporated into primary care screening for adolescent boys.

KEYWORDS:

Adolescent health; Body image; Weight control

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