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February 1996

Weight Perception of Adolescent Dancing School Students

Author Affiliations

From the Nutrition Clinic, Department of Paediatrics, Kaplan Hospital, Rehovot, Israel (Drs Vaisman and Akivis); Medical School, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel (Drs Vaisman, Akivis, and Voet); Faculty of Agriculture, Rehovot (Dr Voet); and Israel Dance Medicine Center, Tel Aviv (Dr Sive-Ner).

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1996;150(2):187-190. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1996.02170270069010

Objective:  To study the hypothesis that underweight may be more prevalent among dancing school students than among nondancing school girls, and that their teachers and peers may play a role in developing this tendency.

Design:  A case-control study on a convenience sample.

Setting:   Two local dancing schools and one neighboring regular school.

Participants:  Forty ballet students, aged 13 to 17 years, from four classes and 29 age-matched girls in four regular classes.

Intervention:  None.

Measurements/Main Results:  Each pupil was asked to classify herself and her peers as underweight, normal, or overweight; teachers were asked to classify their pupils by the same categories. Results were compared with an objective score, weight as a percentage of ideal weight for height, in which less than 85% indicates underweight; 85% to 115%, normal; and more than 115%, overweight. A higher prevalence of underweight as well as a significant tendency to overestimate self-evaluation was found among dancing students. Dancing teachers' evaluation tended to be inaccurate, especially regarding their underweight students.

Conclusions:  The atmosphere in dancing classes may encourage striving for thinness beyond normal limits. Ballet teachers may play a significant role in this process. We suggest that physicians and nutritionists be involved in ballet schools.(Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1996;150:187-190)