Gender differences in nutritional behavior and weight status during early and late adolescence
Askovic, Branka; Kirchengast, Sylvia
The current study aimed to determine gender differences in nutritional habits, eating behaviour, weight status, body image and weight control practices during early and late adolescence. 677 Viennese pupils (253 boys and 424 girls) between the ages 10 and 18 years (x = 14.1 yrs; ± 2.2) were enrolled in the study. Weight status was determined by means of body mass index percentiles. To assess eating behavior, food preferences, body image and weight control practices, a 48 item questionnaire was developed. Significant gender differences in weight status were observable during late adolescence only. Girls are significantly less satisfied with their body weight. Furthermore, girls practice dieting and weight control to avoid any weight gain more frequently than boys. Gender differences in eating behavior intensified from early to late adolescence. From early to late adolescence, meal size decreased among girls, while it remains stabile or increased among boys. Boys eat generally more than girls. Furthermore, boys preferred meat and fast food while girls consumed fruits, vegetables and healthy food significantly more frequently. These gender differences are explained by gender specific energetic demands and culture typical beauty ideals.