Weight loss intentions and methods in New Zealand adolescents
Background: Weight control behaviours, particularly weight loss, are prevalent amongst adolescents of all body sizes. Methods of weight control encompass a broad range of actions, from exercising and eating more healthy foods to vomiting or starvation. There is limited research on weight-loss intentions and methods amongst adolescents in New Zealand and the relation to weight perception and body mass index (BMI). Objective: This study aims to investigate weight control intentions and behaviours amongst a sample of male and female adolescents in New Zealand by (a) determining the prevalence of weight loss methods, body image perception, and weight loss intentions of a sample of adolescents in New Zealand; (b) identifying the association between weight perception and weight loss intentions; and (c) establishing the association between BMI with weight perception, weight loss intentions and methods in New Zealand adolescents. Design: This is an observational cross-sectional study amongst 15-18-year-old New Zealand adolescents for the SuNDiAL (Survey of Nutrition, Dietary Assessment, and Lifestyles) project. Data collection occurred in two phases; February - November 2019 and February - May 2020. This study assessed methods of weight control through an online, self-administered questionnaire. Trained researchers collected anthropometric measures. Results: In a sample of 246 females and 124 males, nearly half of the females (48%) and 28% of the males were currently attempting to lose weight; 34% of these females were of a healthy weight. Conversely, 2% of females were trying to gain weight, compared with 27% of males. More females than males reported using unhealthy weight loss methods in the past year; skipping meals (40% vs 22% ), vomiting (3% vs 2%), eating very little food (39% vs 15%), or smoking cigarettes (8% vs 1%). Among the participants, females were more likely to perceive themselves as heavier than males. Conclusion: Intention to lose weight remains prevalent, and unhealthy weight loss methods are not uncommon among New Zealand adolescents, particularly females. Further efforts and discussion is required to resolve this double burden of body weight concerns and the potential development of disordered eating patterns.
Advisor: Haszard, Jill
Degree Name: PGDipSci
Degree Discipline: Dietetics
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: "New Zealand". "Weight loss intentions". "Weight loss methods". "Adolescents".
Research Type: Thesis