• Adolescent girls and body image;
  • dieting frequency;
  • obesity;
  • psychological problems


Dissatisfaction with body weight and the use of unhealthy weight reduction practices have been reported among adolescents. It is important to conduct rigorous studies using large representative samples of female adolescents to assess accurately the frequency of dieting, overweight and eating disorders and accompanying attitudes. The aim of the present study was to examine the severity of dieting and its association with obesity, body satisfaction and psychological problems in female adolescents. A representative sample of 800 girls aged 14–19 years were approached during the period of October to December 2004, and 566 girls gave consent and participated in the study, thus giving a response rate of 70.8%. Self-reports were obtained from 566 teenage girls using the Adolescent Dieting Scale and the Self-Reporting Questionnaire (SRQ-20) for psychopathology. Subjects were classified into three categories: acceptable weight (BMI < 25 kg m−2); overweight (BMI 25–29.9 kg m−2); and obese (BMI > 30 kg m−2). The prevalence of overweight and obesity for female adolescents were 13.4% vs. 1.8%; 39.9% were intermediate dieters, and 8.3% were extreme dieters. Dieting was not associated with age but was significantly associated with body mass index (BMI) (= 0.045). Extreme dieting was strongly associated with peer perception of respondent's figure (< 0.001) and self-perception of figure (= 0.016). Additionally, in adult Qatari population overweight and obesity for males were (34.4% vs. 34.6%) and for females were (33.0% vs. 45.3%). This is significantly higher than adolescent girls. (< 0.01). The SRQ score was significantly highest in the extreme dieters group (= 0.005). The extreme dieters get most of their education about dieting from school (14.0%) and TV (43.6%). The present study revealed strong evidence for the association between frequent dieting and overweight, body image dissatisfaction and psychological problems among adolescent females.