Objective: The purpose of this research was to determine the patterns and frequency of dieting behaviors in a high school population in a metropolitan area.
Design: Dieting practices were assessed by using a survey instrument consisting of demographic questions and questions regarding dieting practices.
Subjects/setting: The survey was administered to 10th-grade male and female students at a multiethnic, urban, public high school in the Los Angeles area. One hundred fifty-three surveys were distributed in the classroom setting, with 146 usable surveys analyzed.
Statistical analyses: Statistical analyses included simple frequencies, chi 2, Fisher exact test, t tests, and two-way analysis of variance. A significance level of.05 was used for all statistical analyses.
Results: The population with a body mass index greater than 25 was 26.6% and, therefore, at risk of being overweight. Of those who have tried dieting, 54.7% often diet to control their weight. Limiting portion size was practiced by about 34% of those who had tried dieting techniques. In addition, counting calories and counting grams of fat were reported by 31.4% and 41.9% of these students, respectively. Of interest, 64.8% of the students who had tried dieting reported that they tried to eat and/or purchase foods that were low in fat. Approximately, 44% of these students used meal skipping to control their weight.
Conclusions: The high prevalence of dieting behaviors suggests that urban adolescents should be reached with appropriate interventions. Safe dieting strategies should be an integral part of any nutrition education and weight loss intervention.