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.