Self-eSteem, Weight StatuS, and trying to loSe Weight during young adulthood: The roleS of Sex and ethnicity/race

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Objectives: This study sought to examine sex and ethnicity/race differences in the associations between self-esteem, weight status, and trying to lose weight among young adults in the United States. Methods: Data were drawn from Wave III (2001/2002) of the US National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health public-use sample). Body mass index (BMI) was measured during in-home visits. Weight-loss patterns, self-esteem, and sociodemographics were assessed via self-reports. Logistic regression models were fitted among 4,594 young adults who were aged 21.8 (SD=1.8) years. Results: Obesity was associated with relatively poor self-esteem among both African American (P=.007) and White females (P<.006). In comparison to not trying to lose weight, trying to lose weight was associated with poorer self-esteem among normal-weight (OR=1.23, 95% CI=1.03–1.47) and overweight (OR=1.36, 95% CI=1.07–1.72) White females, but not among White females with obesity (OR=1.19, 95% CI=.92–1.55), African American females (OR=.81, 95% CI=.57–1.17), or males (OR=1.00, 95% CI=.88–1.14). Conclusion: The decision to lose weight was linked with poor self-esteem solely among normal-weight and overweight White females. African American and White females with obesity presented with relatively poor self-esteem, but their decision to lose weight was not linked with their self-esteem. More studies are needed to understand the psychological mechanism behind the decision to lose weight among White females with obesity, African American females, and males.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)485-494
Number of pages10
JournalEthnicity and Disease
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Ethnicity and Disease, Inc.. All rights reserved.


  • Add Health
  • African Americans
  • Eating Behaviors
  • Ethnicity
  • Self-Esteem
  • Weight Loss
  • Young Adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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