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October 1988

Body Image and Eating Behavior in Adolescent Girls

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Adolescent Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Madigan Army Medical Center, Tacoma, Wash.

Am J Dis Child. 1988;142(10):1114-1118. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1988.02150100108038

• To determine attitudes toward body weight and shape and eating and weight control practices among adolescent girls, an anonymous questionnaire was administered to 854 adolescent girls and young women aged 12 through 23 years who were seen in a military adolescent outpatient clinic. Overall, 67% were dissatisfied with their weight, and 54% were dissatisfied with their body shape. Dissatisfaction with weight and shape varied positively with increasing body weight but not with increasing age. Binge eating had occurred in 30.4%, and weight control behavior, such as dieting, fasting, vomiting, and stimulant, laxative, and diuretic use, had occurred in 38.2%, 30.7%, 8.5%, 9.5%, 3.3%, and 6.2%, respectively, varying positively with increasing weight. Thirty-six percent of those adolescent girls who saw themselves as overweight desired an inappropriate weight loss, and 61% of these, who desired an excessive loss, exhibited an increased prevalence of weight control behaviors and were less likely to believe that they had an eating problem. Dissatisfaction with body weight and shape, and eating behaviors, such as dieting, binge eating, fasting, and vomiting, are common in adolescent girls, many of whom are attempting weight control without an accurate perception of what is normal.

(AJDC 1988;142:1114-1118)