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April 03, 2001

Two-thirds of teenage girls are currently trying to lose weight or have recently attempted to lose weight, according to a recent study of America’s youth. By the time they reach age 18, about half of U.S. girls feel they are overweight. Yet findings indicate, despite their negative self-image, girls are not exercising as frequently as boys.

These are among the findings of the most recent wave of Harris Interactive YouthPulseSM , a study, conducted online twice yearly by Harris Interactive. Interviews were conducted online with 3,878 young respondents ages 8 to 24 in January 2001. See 'More Images' above for charts.

"It is clear that teen girls are more critical of their bodies than teen boys," stated John Geraci, Harris Interactive’s vice president for youth research. "The gap between the proportion of girls and boys who see themselves as being overweight is significant, but what is shocking is how young this perception starts. We found that about a third of 8-12 year old girls feel they are overweight."

Geraci added, "By most measures, physical activity among young people is decreasing. At the same time, we are seeing decreases in body image perceptions and increases in dieting behaviors among girls."

The study also found that despite female teens and young adults being more apt than males in the same age range to say they are overweight, they are exercising less. Girls 13-24 were more likely than boys to be trying to lose weight (50% vs. 24%) and to perceive themselves as overweight (47% vs. 34%), but less likely to be physically active. Three in 10 females 13-24 reported that they had not participated in activities that made them sweat or breath hard in the past week, while only less than one-quarter of their male counterparts said the same.

For more information at http://www.harrisinteractive.com

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