Portion Control & Exercise

Weight-control behaviors and subsequent weight change among adolescents and young adult females.

Field AE, Haines J, Rosner B, Willett WC.

Divisionof Adolescent Medicine, Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard MedicalSchool, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

BACKGROUND: Little is known about the effectiveness of behavioral strategies to prevent long-term weight gain among adolescents and young adults.

OBJECTIVE: The objective was to assess the relation of dietary and physical activity weight-control strategies, alone and together, with subsequent weight change.


DESIGN: This was a prospective study of 4456 female adolescents and young adults aged 14-22y in the ongoing GrowingUp Today Study. Weight-control behaviors, including dietary approaches and physical activity, were self-reported in 2001 and were used to predict weight change from 2001 to 2005.

RESULTS: In 2001-2002, 23.7%of female adolescents and young adults were trying to maintain their weight and another 54.4% were trying to lose weight. Approximately 25% used each of the following weight-control strategies: not eating snacks, following low-calorie or low-fat diets, and limiting portionsizes. In addition, 47.7% reported exercising at least occasionally for weight control. During 4 y of follow-up, participants gained an averageof 3.3 kg. None of the dietary approaches to weight control predicted less weight change; however, females who exercised > or =5 d/wk gained significantly less weight than did their peers (-0.9 kg; 95% CI:-1.4, -0.4).

The most successful strategy for weight-gain prevention among the females was to limit portion sizes (-1.9 kg; 95% CI: -2.6,-1.1) combined with frequent exercise.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that physical activity is a necessary strategy for long-term weight control among adolescents and young adult females. Combining dietary weight-control approaches with physical activity is the most effective method for reducing weight gain.

Waging War Against Body Fat!

John David Reynolds III

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