The Journal of Primary Prevention

, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 345–360 | Cite as

Weight Management, Weight Perceptions, and Health-Compromising Behaviours Among Adolescent Girls in the COMPASS Study

  • Amanda Raffoul
  • Scott T. Leatherdale
  • Sharon I. KirkpatrickEmail author
Original Paper


Evidence suggests associations between weight management intentions, weight perceptions, and health-compromising behaviours among adolescent girls. Drawing on cross-sectional data for 21,456 girls, we employed multinomial logistic regression to examine whether smoking, binge drinking, and breakfast-skipping were associated with weight management intentions and weight perceptions. According to self-reported heights and weights, 61.4% of girls were in the healthy weight category. However, most reported trying to manage their weight, with 58% trying to lose, 4.5% trying to gain, and 18% trying to maintain their weight. Smokers were more likely than non-smokers to report intentions to lose, gain, or maintain weight versus to do nothing. However, smokers were less likely than non-smokers to perceive themselves as underweight or overweight versus about the right weight. Binge drinkers were more likely than other girls to report an intention to gain and less likely to be trying to maintain their weight versus doing nothing, and breakfast-skippers were more likely to report trying to lose or gain weight but less likely to report trying to maintain weight versus doing nothing. Binge drinkers and breakfast-skippers were more likely than non-binge drinkers and non-breakfast-skippers, respectively, to perceive themselves as underweight, overweight or very overweight versus about the right weight. In sum, the majority of girls reported trying to manage their weight, and those engaging in other health-compromising behaviours were more likely to do so, though the exact nature of the associations differed by behaviour. Recognition of shared underlying risk factors for this clustering of behaviours may inform comprehensive health promotion efforts.


Weight management Dieting Weight perception Smoking Binge drinking Meal-skipping 



The COMPASS study was supported by a bridge grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes (INMD) through the “Obesity – Interventions to Prevent or Treat” priority funding awards (OOP-110,788; grant awarded to ST. Leatherdale) and an operating grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Institute of Population and Public Health (IPPH) (MOP-114875; grant awarded to ST. Leatherdale). Dr. Leatherdale is a Chair in Applied Public Health Research funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) in partnership with Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). Sharon Kirkpatrick is funded by a Capacity Development Award from the Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute (702855).

Compliance With Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare they have no conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.

Ethics Approval

Ethics approval was granted by the University of Waterloo Office of Research Ethics.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amanda Raffoul
    • 1
  • Scott T. Leatherdale
    • 1
  • Sharon I. Kirkpatrick
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.School of Public Health and Health SystemsUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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