Teen girls who perceive themselves as being lower on the social ladder appear more likely to gain weight over the subsequent two years, according to a report in the January issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
Between 1999 and 2004, the percentage of American teen girls classified as overweight increased from 14 percent to 16 percent, according to background information in the article. “Children who are overweight experience many health complications but perceive the most immediate consequence of overweight to be social discrimination,” the authors write. “To lessen this health and economic burden, it is important to identify factors that contribute to excess weight gain and the development of obesity.”
Adina R. Lemeshow, S.M., of the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Bureau of Tobacco Control, and colleagues assessed questionnaires completed by 4,446 girls age 12 to 18 years in 1999. In addition to reporting their height and weight, television viewing habits, diet and other factors, the girls answered the following question: “‘At the top of the ladder are the people in your school with the most respect and the highest standing. At the bottom are the people who no one respects and no one wants to hang around with. Where would you place yourself on the ladder"'” Girls who placed themselves at five or above on the 10-rung ladder were compared with those who ranked themselves at or below four.