Objective: To compare weight-related concerns and behaviors across ethnicity/race among a population-based sample of adolescent boys and girls. Methods: The study population included 4746 adolescents from urban public schools in the state of Minnesota who completed surveys and anthropometric measurements as part of Project EAT (Eating Among Teens), a population-based study focusing on eating patterns and weight concerns among teenagers. Main outcome measures included measured body mass index (BMI), weight-related concerns (perceived weight status, weight disparity, body satisfaction and attitudes about weight control) and weight-related behaviors (general/specific weight control behaviors and binge eating). Results: In comparison to White girls, African American girls tended to report fewer weight-related concerns/behaviors, while Hispanic, Asian American and Native American girls tended to report similar or more concerns/behaviors. Among boys, weight-related concerns/behaviors were equally or more prevalent among all non-Whites than among Whites. In particular, African American and Asian American boys were at greater risk for potentially harmful weight-related concerns/behaviors than White boys. Conclusions: Weight-related concerns and behaviors are prevalent among adolescents, regardless of their ethnic/racial background, indicating a need for prevention and treatment efforts that reach adolescents of different ethnic backgrounds. However, ethnic differences demonstrate a need for ensuring that the specific needs of different groups are addressed in the development of such interventions.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was supported by grant MCJ-270834 (D. Neumark-Sztainer, principal investigator) from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (Title V, Social Security Act), Health Resources and Service Administration, US Department of Health and Human Services. The authors would like to acknowledge students and staff from the St. Paul, Minneapolis and Osseo school districts for participating in this study.
- Body image
- Disordered eating
- Eating disorders