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Keywords:

  • weight control;
  • overweight;
  • underweight;
  • adolescents;
  • Palestinian

Abstract

Objective:

The objective of the study is to examine the relationship between weight-control behaviors and self-reported sociodemographic characteristics, weight status, and perception of body weight in a large, representative sample of adolescents in the West Bank and Gaza Strip territories of Palestine.

Method:

Self-report measures of sociodemographic characteristics, body weight perception, height and weight, and weight-control behaviors were completed by 8,885 male and female students aged 12–18 years from 405 randomly selected schools as part of the 2003/2004 Palestinian Health Behavior in School-aged Children Study (HBSC).

Results:

In both genders, dieting to lose weight was common among adolescents and significantly higher among overweight than among underweight or normal weight adolescents. Extreme weight-control behaviors (vomiting, diet pills, or laxatives) and smoking were more common among boys than girls, and extreme weight-control behaviors were particularly common among underweight boys. Older adolescents were less likely than younger adolescents to engage in weight-control behaviors. Perception of body weight as too fat was an influential factor in following an unhealthy diet to lose weight.

Discussion:

Practices to control weight, particularly extreme and unhealthy weight-control behaviors, are common among adolescents in the Palestinian territories. These findings suggest the need to design appropriate prevention and early intervention programs for adolescents in Palestine. © 2009 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 2010