Persistence of weight loss behaviors among adolescent girls in Jerusalem

D. Neumark-Sztainer, R. Butler, H. Palti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective: The study objectives were to examine changes in nutritional knowledge, attitudes, and practices throughout secondary school; to determine which factors in middle adolescence predict excessive and unhealthy dieting behaviors in late adolescence; and to compare factors predicting weight loss behaviors during middle and late adolescence. Method: This paper report a longitudinal study of weight loss behaviors, eating behaviors, nutritional knowledge and attitudes, body image, self esteem, and Body Mass Index among 143 adolescent girls in Jerusalem, Israel. Girls were surveyed at the beginning of tenth grade (middle adolescence) and at the end of twelfth grade (late adolescence). Results: In spite of improvements in nutritional knowledge and attitudes, eating behaviors either remained stable or deteriorated during this period. Girls who engaged in dieting and bingeing behaviors in middle adolescence were more likely to engage in these behaviors in late adolescence. Results indicated that 44% of the variance in twelfth grade dieting behaviors were accounted for by tenth grade knowledge, attitudes and practices. Predictors of dieting behaviors include early dieting behaviors, attitudes towards weight loss methods, body dissatisfaction, BMI, and number of peers dieting. Self esteem predicted dieting behaviors in middle adolescence but not in late adolescence. Discussion: The results indicate that dieting and bingeing behaviors are not just a passing fad but continue into later adolescence. The persistence of these behaviors provides justification for early interventions aimed at the prevention of disordered eating among adolescents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-35
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1997


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