Section 5: Weight and Dietary Behaviors
BackgroundNational data show that obesity is increasing among adolescents. Obesity acquired during childhood often persists into adulthood, increasing the later risk for diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease8. In addition, obesity can cause social and psychological stress to children and adolescents9.
Adolescent girls may develop eating disorders. An overemphasis on thinness may also be unhealthy.
To avoid problems of obesity and eating disorders, healthy eating habits should be encouraged among adolescents. Current dietary guidelines include increasing consumption of breads, grains and cereals; eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day and maintaining a healthy weight10.
Perception of Weight
More than one third of high school girls describe themselves as overweight. Girls are more likely to describe themselves as overweight than are boys.
Trying to Lose Weight
Although 38.3% of girls describe themselves as overweight, 59.5% are trying to lose weight - almost twice as many. The percent of boys who are trying to lose weight is similar to the percent who perceive themselves as being overweight.
Methods To Lose or Keep from Gaining Weight
Exercise and diet are the most common method used by high school students to lose or keep from gaining weight. About 8% of high school girls have vomited or used laxatives for weight loss and 6.9% have used diet pills within the past 30 days.
Alaska boys are more likely than Alaska girls to report eating hamburgers, french fries and desserts (cakes, cookies, doughnuts, pie). Over 70% of boys and 67% of girls reported eating fruit and drinking fruit juice in the previous day.
Both Alaska girls and boys are more likely to report eating five or more servings of fruits and/or vegetables than are U.S. students.