Anthropometric variables, eating habits and diets in adolescents and youth: Sex differences

Carmen Maganto, Maite Garaigordobil, Lorea Kortabarria


The study aimed to analyze sex differences in an­thropometric variables (real, perceived, and desired), eating habits, and the use of diets. Participants were 1,075 adolescents and youth aged 14 to 25 (49.9 % males, 50.1 % females). Using a descriptive and comparative design, three assessment instruments were administered. The results confirm many signifi­cant sex differences. In anthropometric variables, girls perceive themselves as more obese than they are and they want to be thinner; boys perceive them­selves as thin as or thinner than they are and they want to have greater body volume. Boys want to have a higher Body Mass Index (BMI), and girls want a lower one. Girls score significantly higher in eating habits, although boys perceive their diet as more bal­anced. The girls have followed more diets and be­lieve they need them more. In boys, the reasons for weight gain are biological and in girls, due to im­proper eating habits. Girls follow more diets, both healthy and not recommended. In girls, the reason for starting a diet is body image and in boys, peer ac­ceptance. Boys attribute quitting a diet to the diet it­self, and girls attribute it to themselves. The study provides relevant data for the design of prevention and/or treatment programs targeting adoles­cents/youth with eating problems, either due to alter­ations in body image, unsuitable eating habits, and/or misuse of diets. 


anthropometric variables; eating habits; diet; sex; adolescents and youth



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