Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 15, Issue 6, pp 461–474 | Cite as

The etiology of adolescents' perceptions of their weight

  • Sharon M. Desmond
  • James H. Price
  • Nancy Gray
  • Janelle K. O'Connell
Article

Abstract

The present study examined adolescents' actual and perceived weights in relation to why adolescents think they weigh what they do, where adolescents obtain weight control information, and adolescents' weight locus of control. The study was conducted in a Midwestern high school, based on information obtaind from 194 freshmen. Thirty percent of the adolescents perceived their weight category inaccurately when compared to their actual weight and height. One-third of those who were thin, one-half of those who were normal weight, and two-thirds of those who were heavy had been exercising during the past six months to control or lose weight. Six percent of the thin, 41% of the normal weight, and 56% of the heavy students had dieted within the past six months to control or lose weight. The leading sources of weight control information were television, family, friends, and magazines. Teachers were identified as sources of information by less than 10% of the students. Mother, family, and friends were identified as those most helpful in adolescents' attempts to lose weight. Significant chi-square differences were found between weight locus of control orientations and actual and perceived weight categories. Finally, a multivariate analysis of variance was used to analyze adolescents' perceptions of weighing what they do. Eat too much vs too little and exercise too much vs too little were the two reasons identified that were statistically significant. The information obtained from this study may be useful in designing and implementing weight control and nutritional programs for adolescents. For many of the adolescents, their perceptions were different from reality.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Galper, R. E., and Weiss, E. (1975). Attribution of behavioral intentions to obese and normalweight stimulus persons.Eur. J. Social Psychol. 5: 425–440.Google Scholar
  2. Gierszewski, S. A. (1983). The relationship of weight loss, locus of control, and social support.Nurs. Res. 32: 43–47.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Heston, M. L. (1983). Childhood obesity: Implications for physical education.Phys. Educa. 40: 145–149.Google Scholar
  4. Huenemann, R. L., Hampton, M. C., Behnke, A. R., Shapiro, L. R., and Mitchell, B. W. (1974).Teenage Nutrition and Physique. Charles G. Thomas, Springfield, IL.Google Scholar
  5. Huse, D. M., Branes, L. A., Colligan, R. C., Nelson, R. A., and Paleumbo, P. J. (1982). The challenge of obesity in childhood: I. Incidence, prevalence, and staging.Mayo Clinic Proc. 57: 279–284.Google Scholar
  6. Kaplan, S. (1979). Some psychological and social factors present in the condition of obesity.J. Rehabil. 45: 52–54.Google Scholar
  7. Lansky, D., and Brownwell, K. D. (1982). Comparison of school-based treatments for adolescent obesity.J. School Hilth. 55: 384–387.Google Scholar
  8. Saltzer, E. B. (1982). The weight locus of control (WLOC) scale: A specific measure for obesity research.J. Personal. Assess. 46: 620–628.Google Scholar
  9. Stewart, A. L., and Brook, R. H. (1983). Effects of being overweight.Amer. J. Public Hlth. 73: 171–178.Google Scholar
  10. Storz, N. S., and Greene, W. H. (1983). Body weight, body image, and perception of fad diets in adolescent girls.J. Nutri. Educa. 15: 15–18.Google Scholar
  11. U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare. (1973).Height and Weight of Youths 12–17 Years. National health survey, series 11, Number 124. Publication No. HSM 73-1606. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  12. Van Thore, M. D., and Vogel, F. X. (1985). The presence of bulimia in high school females.Adolescence 20: 45–51.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Wallston, K. A., and Wallston, B. S. (1982). Who is responsible for your health?The construct of health locus of control. In Saunders, G. S. & Suls, J., (Eds.),Social Psychology of Health and Illness. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Hillsdale, NJ.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sharon M. Desmond
    • 1
  • James H. Price
    • 1
  • Nancy Gray
    • 1
    • 2
  • Janelle K. O'Connell
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Health Promotion and Human PerformanceUniversity of ToledoToledo
  2. 2.Department of PediatricsUniversity of Tennessee Memorial Research Center and HospitalKnoxville

Personalised recommendations