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Original Research

Body weight perceptions and eating-related weight control behaviors of on-reserve First Nations youth from Ontario, Canada

Submitted: 16 May 2013
Revised: 16 November 2013
Accepted: 17 December 2013
Published: 2 September 2014

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Author(s) : Gates A, Hanning RM, Martin ID, Gates M, Tsuji LJS.

Citation: Gates A, Hanning RM, Martin ID, Gates M, Tsuji LJS.  Body weight perceptions and eating-related weight control behaviors of on-reserve First Nations youth from Ontario, Canada. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2014; 14: 2665. Available: http://www.rrh.org.au/articles/subviewnew.asp?ArticleID=2665 (Accessed 17 October 2017)

ABSTRACT

Introduction:  Research investigating the body weight perceptions and eating-related weight control behaviors of First Nations (FN) youth living on reserve in Canada has been scarce. Knowledge of body weight perceptions may help to improve the relevance of initiatives promoting healthy weights. The purpose of this study was to examine the body weight perceptions and eating-related weight control behaviors of grade 6–8 on-reserve FN youth from seven Ontario communities.
Methods:  Data were collected from December 2003 to June 2010 from a convenience sample of FN youth (aged 10–14 years) using the Waterloo Web-based Eating Behaviour Questionnaire (WEB-Q). Participants were categorized into body mass index (BMI) categories based on International Obesity Task Force (IOTF) cut points. Frequency statistics were computed in the comparison of measured BMI and weight perceptions and weight control behaviors. Differences by BMI category were tested using Pearson Χ2 tests.
Results:  A total of 267 youth from seven Ontario FN communities participated in the study (48.6% male). Overall, 36.3% of youth were overweight and 21.3% were obese (combined total of 57.6%). Similar to non-Aboriginal youth, a greater proportion of FN girls who were at a normal weight were concerned that their weight was too high compared to boys. However, one-third of normal weight boys were currently trying to lose weight. A greater proportion of obese girls were trying to lose weight compared to boys. Overall, a large proportion of both overweight boys and girls were attempting to gain weight.
Conclusions:  The present study provides a unique investigation into the weight perceptions and weight control behaviors of on-reserve FN youth living in isolated communities in Ontario, Canada. Many of the perceptions elucidated in this study are similar to those observed in non-Aboriginal youth, while others differed. The knowledge of these perceptions and further research to investigate what factors influences them will help to customize health promoting initiatives that are relevant to the youth in the participating communities.

Key words: Aboriginal, adolescent, body image, body mass index, body weight, First Nation, weight perceptions.

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