Dieting practices weight perceptions and body composition: A comparison of normal weight overweight and obese college females

ECU Author/Contributor (non-ECU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Victor G. Aeby (Creator)
Matthew B. Dallas (Creator)
Brenda M. Malinauskas (Creator)
Thomas D. Raedeke (Creator)
Jean L. Smith (Creator)
East Carolina University (ECU )
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Abstract: Background: Of concern to health educators is the suggestion that college females practice diet and health behaviors that contradict the 2005 dietary guidelines for Americans. In this regard there remain gaps in the research related to dieting among college females. Namely do normal weight individuals diet differently from those who are overweight or obese and are there dieting practices used by females that can be adapted to promote a healthy body weight? Since it is well recognized that females diet this study seeks to determine the dieting practices used among normal overweight and obese college females (do they diet differently) and identify dieting practices that could be pursued to help these females more appropriately achieve and aintain a healthy body weight. Methods: A total of 185 female college students aged 18 to 24 years participated in this study. Height weight waist and hip circumferences and skinfold thickness were measured to assess body composition. Surveys included a dieting practices uestionnaire and a 30-day physical activity recall. Participants were classified according to body mass index (BMI) as normal weight (n = 113) overweight (n = 35) or obese (n = 21). Data were analyzed using JMP IN® software. Descriptive statistics included means standard deviations and frequency. Subsequent data analysis involved Pearson X2 and one-way analysis of variance with comparison for all pairs that were significantly different using Tukey-Kramer honestly significant difference test. Results: Outcomes of this study indicate the majority of participants (83%) used dieting for weight loss and believed they would e 2% to 6% greater than current weight if they did not diet; normal weight overweight and obese groups perceived attractive weight to be 94% 85% and 74% respectively of current weight; 80% of participants reported using physical activity to control weight although only 19% exercised at a level that would promote weight loss; only two of 15 dieting behaviors assessed differed in terms of prevalence of use among groups which were consciously eating less than you want (44% normal weight 57% overweight 81% obese) and using artificial sweeteners (31% normal weight and overweight 5% obese); and the most prevalent explicit maladaptive weight loss behavior was smoking cigarettes (used by 9% of participants) and most unhealthy was skipping breakfast (32%). Conclusion: Collectively results indicate female college students regardless of weight status would benefit from open discussions with health educators regarding healthy and effective dieting practices to achieve/maintain a healthy body weight. he results are subject to replication among high school middle-aged and older females. Originally published Nutrition Journal Vol. 5 No. 11 Mar 2006

Additional Information

Nutrition Journal. 5:11(March 2006) p. 1-8.
Language: English
Date: 2011
dieting, Health behavior, female college students

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