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Weight loss efforts of women living in the Yukon Guillen, Eileen Ochangco

Abstract

For many women, body weight is a health concern both in relation to physical health and to social and psychological health. Both overweight and underweight are associated with increased risks to health. Furthermore, the literature largely supports the view that sociological and psychological factors influence a woman's perception of weight and body image. In the Western world, weight loss efforts among women are high, and even those who are within or below the healthy weight range are trying to lose weight. Relatively little is known about weight loss efforts among Yukon women.. Moreover, it is not known whether societal pressures surrounding weight are similar in the Yukon and the rest of Canada. For reasons related mainly to its northern geographical location and culture, and because of the health implications related to women's weight issues, this study was conducted to determine the prevalence of Yukon women trying to lose weight; to determine the weight loss practices of Yukon women; and to compare the characteristics of women who are trying to lose weight vs. those who are not; women who are satisfied with their weight vs. those who are not; and women who are at health risk due to overweight or underweight vs. those with healthy weights. Data for a representative sample of non-pregnant, non-institutionalized women > 15 years of age (n=711) were obtained from the population-based 1993 Yukon Health Promotion Survey. Those living in the census unorganized portions of the Yukon were not included in the sample. The prevalence of weight loss efforts in the Yukon (51.8%) was higher than the published value for women in the rest of Canada (39%). Among Yukon women with body mass index (BMI) values classified as overweight, possible overweight, healthy weight, and underweight, 80%, 67%, 46%, and 9%, respectively, were trying to lose weight. The corresponding values for the rest of Canada are lower. The most frequent weight loss practices were dieting (35.8%), changing diet and exercise (26.1%), and sensible eating (17.2%). Compared to women not trying to lose weight, women trying to lose weight were younger (35.8 ± 13.2 vs 38.6 ± 15.0 yr, P

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