Weight perception, weight control intentions, and dietary intakes among adolescents ages 10–15 years in the United States

Andrea L. Deierlein, Alomi Malkan, Jaqueline Litvak, Niyati Parekh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: To examine associations of adolescents’ weight status perception and weight control intentions with dietary intakes. Methods: Cross-sectional data from adolescents aged 10–15 in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, 2005–2014 (n = 4940). Adolescents responded to questions regarding weight perception and if they were trying to change their weight. Intakes of calories, protein, carbohydrate, fat, saturated fat, sugar, and fiber were assessed using 24-h dietary recalls. Multivariable linear regression estimated associations of intakes with weight perception and weight control intentions. Results: The majority of adolescents perceived their weight as “about right”; however, 45% and 46% of boys and girls, respectively, reported trying to change their weight. Weight perception was not associated with intakes, with the exception of lower sugar (−13.65 g, 95% CI: −23.06, −4.23) and higher percent calories from protein (1.01%, 95% CI: 0.16, 1.87) in boys with overweight/obesity who perceived themselves as overweight, as well as lower percent calories from saturated fat (−1.04%, 95% CI: −2.24, −0.17) among girls with normal weight who perceived themselves as overweight. Weight control intentions were associated with intakes in boys only. Compared to boys who never tried to lose weight, boys who tried to lose weight consumed fewer calories (−188.34 kcal, 95% CI: −357.67, −19.01), a lower percent of calories from fat (−1.41%, 95% CI: −2.80, −0.02), and a greater percent of calories from protein (1.48%, 95% CI: 0.41, 2.55). Conclusions: Despite perceiving weight as “about right”, many adolescents reported trying to change their weight, which was associated with some dietary intakes. Efforts may be necessary to educate adolescents on healthy nutrition and weight management behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number990
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 2 2019


  • Adolescent
  • Behaviors
  • Diet
  • Perception
  • Weight
  • Weight management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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