Does this make me look fat?

July 1, 2008

The peer groups teenage girls identify with determine how they decide to control their own figure. So reports a new study by Dr. Eleanor Mackey from the Children's National Medical Center in Washington DC, and her colleague Dr. Annette La Greca from the University of Miami. Also influencing weight control behavior is girls' own definition of normal body weight and their perception of what others consider normal body weight. These results have just been published online in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, a Springer publication.

Dangerous weight control practices such as excessive dieting and bulimic tendencies often begin in adolescence and can have serious long-term health implications. Although it is clear that peers can have a major effect on adolescent girls' weight control strategies, exactly how peers exert their influence is to date not well understood. The researchers aimed to clarify how identifying with a particular peer group influences whether or not girls worry about their weight and how they decide to control it.

The authors tested 236 girls aged between 13 to 18 years old, who completed surveys looking at which peer groups they most identified with, their own concerns about body weight, their perception of their peers' weight concerns and their own weight control behaviors. The researchers found that there is a complex relationship between peer group affiliation and girls' weight control behavior. In particular, which group girls identified with was often related to how they controlled their weight.

More specifically, girls identifying with athletic peers ('Jocks') were less concerned about their own weight and seemed less likely to be trying to control their weight. Girls identifying with non–conformist peers ('Alternatives') were more concerned about their weight and appearance and more likely to be actively trying to lose weight. The girls who identified with those who skip school and often get into trouble ('Burnouts') believed their peers valued thinness and dieting. Finally, girls who did not belong to any particular peer group were the most likely to use slimming strategies.

According to the authors, this study shows that girls' own attitudes and their perceptions of peers' weight and appearance norms are pathways through which peer crowd identification may influence weight control behaviors. Understanding these pathways has implications for prevention and intervention programs in both schools and primary care settings.

The authors suggest that "health care providers and school personnel might ask adolescent girls about their peer crowd affiliations in order to help identify adolescents with the highest levels of risky health behaviors…Girls' body and weight dissatisfaction is also likely to be an important component of weight control interventions."

Source: Springer

Explore further: Maternal GDM tied to child's cardiometabolic profile

Related Stories

Maternal GDM tied to child's cardiometabolic profile

November 22, 2017
(HealthDay)—Teenage offspring of mothers with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) have increased adiposity and an adverse cardiometabolic profile, according to a study published online Oct. 16 in Diabetes Care.

Study finds that skipping breakfast does not lead to overeating later in the day

October 17, 2017
Girls who skipped breakfast as part of a study into energy intake and physical activity were found to consume 350 fewer calories (kcals) a day.

How seeing problems in the brain makes stigma disappear

October 20, 2017
As a psychiatrist, I find that one of the hardest parts of my job is telling parents and their children that they are not to blame for their illness.

Exergames: good for play time, but should not replace physical education

September 22, 2017
More and more young Australians are playing video games during their leisure time. Fortunately, video game manufacturers have introduced "exergames" in an effort to make this typically sedentary activity more physically engaging. ...

Key disordered eating info not reaching overweight youth

April 3, 2015
(HealthDay)—Eating disorder education needs to reach overweight youth, according to a study published in the April issue of the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

Study: Weight loss won't necessarily help teen girls' self-esteem

March 22, 2012
Obese white teenage girls who lose weight may benefit physically, but the weight change does not guarantee they are going to feel better about themselves, according to a Purdue University study.

Recommended for you

Pickled in 'cognac', Chopin's heart gives up its secrets

November 26, 2017
The heart of Frederic Chopin, among the world's most cherished musical virtuosos, may finally have given up the cause of his untimely death.

Sugar industry withheld evidence of sucrose's health effects nearly 50 years ago

November 21, 2017
A U.S. sugar industry trade group appears to have pulled the plug on a study that was producing animal evidence linking sucrose to disease nearly 50 years ago, researchers argue in a paper publishing on November 21 in the ...

Female researchers pay more attention to sex and gender in medicine

November 7, 2017
When women participate in a medical research paper, that research is more likely to take into account the differences between the way men and women react to diseases and treatments, according to a new study by Stanford researchers.

Drug therapy from lethal bacteria could reduce kidney transplant rejection

August 3, 2017
An experimental treatment derived from a potentially deadly microorganism may provide lifesaving help for kidney transplant patients, according to an international study led by investigators at Cedars-Sinai.

Exploring the potential of human echolocation

June 25, 2017
People who are visually impaired will often use a cane to feel out their surroundings. With training and practice, people can learn to use the pitch, loudness and timbre of echoes from the cane or other sounds to navigate ...

Team eradicates hepatitis C in 10 patients following lifesaving transplants from infected donors

April 30, 2017
Ten patients at Penn Medicine have been cured of the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) following lifesaving kidney transplants from deceased donors who were infected with the disease. The findings point to new strategies for increasing ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.