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Weight Control Practices of U.S. Adolescents and Adults

Mary K. Serdula, MD; M. Elizabeth Collins, HSD; David F. Williamson, PhD; Robert F. Anda, MD; Elsie Pamuk, PhD; and Tim E. Byers, MD
[+] Article and Author Information

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia. Requests for Reprints: Mary Serdula, MD, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4770 Buford Highway, N.E., Mailstop K26, Atlanta, GA 30341-3724. Acknowledgments: The authors thank Bill Harris of the Division of Adolescent and School Health for help in data analysis.


Copyright 2004 by the American College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1993;119(7_Part_2):667-671. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-119-7_Part_2-199310011-00008
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Objective: To estimate the prevalence of various weight-loss practices in U.S. adolescents and adults.

Design: The Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a self-administered survey of a random sample of high school students in 1990 and the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a random-digit dial survey in 1989.

Setting: Thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia.

Participants: High school students (n = 11 467) and adults 18 years and older (n = 60 861).

Results: Among high school students, 44% of female students and 15% of male students reported that they were trying to lose weight. An additional 26% of female students and 15% of male students reported that they were trying to keep from gaining more weight. Students reported that they had used the following weight control methods in the 7 days preceding the survey: exercise (51% of female students and 30% of male students); skipping meals (49% and 18%, respectively); taking diet pills (4% and 2%, respectively); and vomiting (3% and 1%, respectively). Among adults, 38% of women and 24% of men reported that they were trying to lose weight, whereas 28% of each sex reported that they were trying to maintain their weight.

Conclusions: Attempts to lose or maintain weight are very prevalent among both adolescents and adults, especially among females.

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