Weight concerns and dieting behaviors among high school girls in Israel

Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Hava Palti, Ruth Butler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of weight concerns and dieting behaviors among Israeli adolescent females, to compare the results with those found in other countries and with previous studies in Israel, and to compare the different ethnic groups within the study population. Methods: The study population included 341 tenth grade girls, mostly native-born, from three public high schools in Jerusalem, Israel. Girls completed a questionnaire, and anthropometric measures were taken within their respective schools. Results: Seventeen percent of the population was obese, however a much larger percentage expressed dissatisfaction with their body weights and shapes. Dieting for weight loss was common with 74% reporting past dieting and 47% reporting present dieting. No differences were found between the girls whose families originated in different countries. However mothers' weight concerns, as perceived by their daughters, did differ with higher concerns among the mothers who had come from Europe/America or who were born in Israel, than among those from North Africa or the Middle East. Conclusions: Comparisons with earlier studies in Israel indicate a large increase in weight concerns and dieting behaviors, with prevalence rates similar to those reported in Western countries. The finding that among the girls, these maladaptive attitudes and behaviors crossed ethnic boundaries, suggests that adolescent girls have been acculturated into the dominant culture in which a strong emphasis is placed on thinness. The results suggest the need for educational programs and for further studies on different cultural and religious groups within Israel.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-59
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent girls
  • Body dissatisfaction
  • Dieting behaviors
  • Weight concerns


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