Objective: To evaluate the prevalence of weight concerns and smoking for body weight reasons as a function of race and gender.
Design: A questionnaire measuring a number of factors thought to be predictive of smoking was administered.
Setting: The Memphis (Tennessee) school system.
Participants: Participants were 6961 seventh-grade students (mean age 13 years). This population consisted of 80.8% black children, 16.5% white children, and 2.7% of other ethnic origins.
Main outcome measures: Weight concerns were assessed using items from a restraint scale. Students were questioned regarding their smoking status, beliefs that smoking controls body weight, and their own weight-control smoking behaviour.
Results: Dietary restraint interacted with race in that, whereas white girls scored the highest on dietary restraint, black boys scored higher on dietary restraint than white boys. Almost 40% of subjects at this school level believed that smoking controls their body weight. Of the regular smokers, 12% indicated they have smoked to control their weight, with white girls endorsing this belief significantly more than other respondents.
Conclusions: The propensity to smoke for weight control reasons, previously described by other researchers among white females of college and high-school age, was also found among this sample of students of junior high school age.