Ethnic/racial differences in weight-related concerns and behaviors among adolescent girls and boys: findings from Project EAT

J Psychosom Res. 2002 Nov;53(5):963-74. doi: 10.1016/s0022-3999(02)00486-5.


Objective: To compare weight-related concerns and behaviors across ethnicity/race among a population-based sample of adolescent boys and girls.

Methods: The study population included 4746 adolescents from urban public schools in the state of Minnesota who completed surveys and anthropometric measurements as part of Project EAT (Eating Among Teens), a population-based study focusing on eating patterns and weight concerns among teenagers. Main outcome measures included measured body mass index (BMI), weight-related concerns (perceived weight status, weight disparity, body satisfaction and attitudes about weight control) and weight-related behaviors (general/specific weight control behaviors and binge eating).

Results: In comparison to White girls, African American girls tended to report fewer weight-related concerns/behaviors, while Hispanic, Asian American and Native American girls tended to report similar or more concerns/behaviors. Among boys, weight-related concerns/behaviors were equally or more prevalent among all non-Whites than among Whites. In particular, African American and Asian American boys were at greater risk for potentially harmful weight-related concerns/behaviors than White boys.

Conclusions: Weight-related concerns and behaviors are prevalent among adolescents, regardless of their ethnic/racial background, indicating a need for prevention and treatment efforts that reach adolescents of different ethnic backgrounds. However, ethnic differences demonstrate a need for ensuring that the specific needs of different groups are addressed in the development of such interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior
  • African Americans* / psychology*
  • Asian Americans / psychology*
  • Attitude to Health
  • Body Image*
  • Body Weight*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Data Collection
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / ethnology*
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American / psychology*
  • Male
  • Sex Factors
  • Urban Population
  • Whites / psychology*