Extreme weight loss behaviors among multi-ethnic adolescents of Florida

WayWay M Hlaing, Theo NIYONSENGA, Diana Maria Davalos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Childhood overweight and obesity across the United States (US) have increased with one-third of Florida’s youth are either overweight or obese. While public health (PH) efforts must continue to address prevention, understanding the behavioral impact of overweight/obesity among adolescents is imperative. Using the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), the prevalence and the correlates of extreme weight loss behavior/practice among multi-ethnic adolescents of Florida were examined cross-sectionally. A representative sample from 75 public High School students in Grades 9 through 12 in 2005 (n=4,564) were included. Analysis accounted for the sampling design and non-response effects. Extreme weight loss behavior or extreme dieter (outcome) was defined as those who used at least one of the three unhealthy methods to lose weight. Prevalence of extreme weight loss behaviors included were (1) fasting for 24 hours or more (11.7%); (2) use of diet pills/powder/liquid without doctor’s advice (6.02%); and (3) use laxatives or purging (5.05%). About 15.1% (n=599) were using at least one of the three methods to lose weight. About 52.5% of extreme dieters were whites, with 25.8% blacks, 19.7% Hispanics, and 2.0% others. Compared to the boys (referent group), girls were 15 times (adjusted OR: 15.4; 95% CI: 9.3 – 25.5) likely to be extreme dieters. Over 52% of extreme dieters were in healthy weight as defined by age-sex-specific BMI percentile. Culturally sensitive and comprehensive health education programs addressing several health risk behaviors could be beneficial for adolescents.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
Journal The Internet Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


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