Category: Obesity / Overweight
Dieting behaviors are largely associated with negative outcomes and increased risk behaviors among adolescent girls (Daee et al., 2002). During adolescence, there is a period of drastic, albeit normative, physiological changes and intrapersonal development. Harmful weight management behaviors also may emerge during this time and are associated with a drive for thinness and body dissatisfaction (Levine et al., 1994). Prior work has primarily focused on risky dieting behaviors among overweight or obese adolescents, yet dieting behaviors are also common among normal weight adolescents (Boutelle et al., 2002). The present study aimed to examine the association of sociocultural attitudes about the ‘thin-ideal’ with dieting behaviors in a community sample of adolescent girls. Data were drawn from a larger study examining pubertal development and psychosocial risk among community-recruited adolescent girls (age 12-15 years; N = 140). The sample analyzed in the present study (n = 108; 72% white, 15% Hispanic/ Latina; Mage = 13.98) were those with complete data.
Sociocultural attitudes were measured by the SATAQ-3, self-report questionnaire examining how much one cognitively “buys into” societies ideal body shape (Thompson et al., 2004). Dieting behavior was assessed by a dichotomous, yes/no response to an item taken from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), which asked “During the past 30 days, did you eat less food, fewer calories, or foods low in fat to lose weight or to keep from gaining weight?” (CDC, 2006). Most of the sample (71%) was of a normal or healthy weight per BMI growth curves and percentile ranking, yet 45% responded affirmatively to dieting behavior.
A logistic regression was run to examine the impact of SATAQ-3 scores on the likelihood of dieting behaviors above and beyond age, grade in school, height, and weight. The overall model was statistically significant, χ2 (df = 5, N = 108) = 37.21, p < .001, but only weight and SATAQ-3 scores were statistically significant (B = .037, p B =.042, p n = 76). Similar results were found, as weight and SATAQ-3 scores remained significant in this subsample (B = .069, p = .014; B = .047, p < .001). Overall, results suggest that many adolescent girls report dieting behaviors, and perhaps some are doing so because they are classified as overweight. However, a belief in harmful sociocultural ideals is also a significant predictor for normal weight adolescent girls. Internalized sociocultural attitudes may serve as a meaningful risk factor to screen for problematic dieting behaviors among girls across all weight ranges.
Megan Douglas– Doctoral Candidate, University of North Texas, Denton, Texas
Renee Cloutier– PhD Student/NIDA Predoctoral Fellow, University of North Texas, Texas
Jasmin John– University of North Texas, Texas
Anabel Potts– University of North Texas
Elexus Holland– University of North Texas
Heidemarie Blumenthal– University of North Texas