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Overweight Perception: Associations with Weight Control Goals, Attempts, and Practices among Chinese Female College Students

Published:August 07, 2015DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2015.06.383

      Abstract

      Background

      Concurrent with the dramatic cultural and economic shifts occurring as mainland China becomes increasingly “Westernized,” the weight perceptions, ideal body weight, and weight management goals and practices of Chinese females have also undergone significant changes.

      Objective

      To investigate relationships between overweight status, weight perception patterns, and weight management goals and practices in Chinese female college students.

      Design/participants/setting

      A cross-sectional analysis was conducted with data from 902 female subjects aged 18 to 25 years participating in the China Seven Cities Study, a health promotion and smoking prevention study conducted in mainland China in 2003.

      Main outcome measures/statistical analyses

      Logistic regression models were used to explore associations between overweight status, weight perception, specific weight management goals and practices, and current levels of vigorous-intensity physical activity and food consumption.

      Results

      Based on World Health Organization standards for Asian adults, 16.7% of college females were overweight or obese, although 50.8% considered themselves to be “too heavy.” Among participants perceiving themselves as overweight (n=458), 69.2% (n=371) were inaccurate and did not meet criteria for overweight or obese. The percentage of participants attempting weight loss was 48.2%, and 33.1% wanted to maintain their current weight. Attempts to lose or maintain weight were related to actual and perceived weight status, but not to increased vigorous-intensity physical activity or fruit and vegetable intake, nor to decreased consumption of sweets, soda, Western fast foods, and fried foods. Only 21.5% of participants desiring weight loss or maintenance reported using a combination of vigorous-intensity physical activity and a reduced-fat and -calorie diet, whereas 20.2% tried extreme methods such as fasting, using diet pills, vomiting, or smoking.

      Conclusions

      Our findings underscore the need to promote healthy weight management practices among Chinese female college students, with an emphasis on diet and physical activity strategies that encourage balance rather than extremes.

      Keywords

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      Biography

      H. C. Tanenbaum is a PhD student, School of Community and Global Health, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA.

      Biography

      J. Q. Felicitas is a PhD student, School of Community and Global Health, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA.

      Biography

      P. H. Palmer is an associate professor, School of Community and Global Health, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA.

      Biography

      K. D. Reynolds is a professor, School of Community and Global Health, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA.

      Biography

      C. Anderson Johnson is a professor, School of Community and Global Health, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA.

      Biography

      B. Xie is an associate professor, School of Community and Global Health, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA.

      Biography

      Y. Li is an assistant professor, School of Social Work, San Diego State University, CA.

      Biography

      M. Tobias is a research assistant, UCSD Moores Cancer Center, La Jolla, CA; at the time of the study, she was an MPH student, School of Community and Global Health, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA.

      Biography

      C.-P. Chou is a professor, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

      Biography

      D. Spruijt-Metz is an adjunct associate professor, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.