Concern about high number of teen girls being underweight
A new study by global market research firm, TNS, reinforces growing alarm among health and nutrition professionals that Australia is in the grips of rising levels of excess weight, risking future diabetes, heart disease and cancer epidemics and increasing mental illness in the community.
The on-line study of 506 Australian women aged 15 or more shows an alarming two thirds (67%) are overweight based on their height and weight (BMI), with four in ten (39%) obese.
Eight in ten women (79%) think they are overweight, indicating that the 12% whose weight is right for their height have body image issues.
TNS General Manager, Tania Kullmann, said the survey shows two thirds of Australian women are trying to lose weight, primarily focusing on reducing the amount of fatty foods they eat, snacking less and exercising.
"Worryingly, however, only 17% of women undertake regular exercise – a symptom of not enough time in modern society for important priorities," she said.
The TNS study reports that 25% of the women surveyed are members of a slimming company, 21% are following an international weight-loss program like the Atkins and South Beach diets and 22% are using weight loss pills.
It also highlights the pressure on teenage girls to be thin. More than a quarter (26%) of 15 to 19 year olds involved in the study consider they are overweight when their BMI indicates they are not. Thirty percent are in fact underweight.
"Being underweight is also unhealthy for our bodies," said Ms Kullmann. "It is very concerning that almost one in three teenagers surveyed weigh too little. This points to growing levels of anorexia and bulimia."
The study was conducted by TNS throughout Australia in September using its managed on-line access panel which has 325,000 active members. Based on the sample size TNS is 95% confident in the accuracy of the results which have a margin of error of +/- 4%.
Source: Eurekalert & othersLast reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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