Correlates of weight loss behaviors among low-income African-American, Caucasian, and Latina women.Obstet Gynecol 2004; 103(2):231-9OG
To examine the prevalence and correlates of weight reduction behaviors among low-income women.
A total of 1,709 Caucasian, African-American, and Latina women aged 12-58 years attending a federally funded family planning clinic reported their weight loss behaviors during the past 30 days, including using diet pills, exercising, purging (vomiting, laxatives, diuretics), and dieting. Approximately 60% (n = 999) had a body mass index of 25 or greater.
Overall, 35.3% (n = 603) of women dieted, 43.7% (n = 746) exercised, 15.1% (n = 258) used diet pills, and 4.3% (n = 69) purged. Only 14.8% (n = 253) of the sample reported both dieting and exercising. The odds of exercising for weight loss decreased as parity increased. Those who smoked currently or in the past were more likely than nonsmokers to report purging (odds ratio [OR] 2.5; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.2, 5.4). African Americans were least likely to diet or exercise compared with Caucasians and Latinas. Exposure to family members using diet pills (OR 4.6; 95% CI 3.2, 6.5), dieting (OR 2.1; 95% CI 1.6, 2.8), or purging (OR 5.6; 95% CI 2.7, 11.9) was associated with increased odds of performing these behaviors oneself.
This research demonstrates that low-income women frequently use maladaptive strategies, such as diet pills and purging, to lose weight. Obesity and family exposure to these behaviors places women at increased risk of unhealthy behaviors. Interventions designed to reduce obesity must include precautions regarding the dangers of these practices.
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