Perceptions of weight and attitudes toward eating in early adolescent girls

J Adolesc Health. 1991 Jun;12(4):307-12. doi: 10.1016/0197-0070(91)90004-6.


Sixth grade girls (n = 206) responded to questions about their weight, body image, dieting practices, and attitudes toward weight and eating. Results suggested that feeling too fat and wishing to lose weight were becoming normative for young adolescent girls in that the majority of girls wished to weigh less and said that they dieted at least occasionally. For most girls, weight concerns had emerged between the ages of 9 to 11. A sizeable proportion of girls seemed to have adopted a "dieting mentality," claiming to be avoiding fat, counting calories, thinking excessively about food, feeling guilty after eating and overeating, and exercising to lose weight. Such practices were common even among girls who did not describe themselves as overweight or who were satisfied with their appearance. The emergence of these attitudes and behaviors at increasingly younger ages is of grave concern, as several of them are risk factors for the development of serious eating disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health
  • Body Image*
  • Body Weight*
  • Child
  • Diet
  • Energy Intake
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Psychology, Adolescent*