Date of Award

2000

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Alison Salmon

Second Advisor

Dr Lynne Cohen

Abstract

Although the numbers of adult smokers has declined, numbers of adolescent smokers have not, with females outnumbering males. Research has indicated that adolescent females have higher levels of body image dissatisfaction than males. This dissatisfaction is mostly with regard to weight, which suggests a possible association between female adolescents smoking and weight control. A study of American adolescents (Camp, Klesges & Relyea, 1993) found that adolescent females were more likely to perceive that smoking is a method of weight control and to use smoking to control their weight than adolescent males. This present study investigated the perceptions of625 Western Australian adolescents (321 males and 304 females) in the age range 13-17 years with regards to smoking and weight control. The study was a partial replication of Camp et al. (1993 ). Data were collected by way of a self-completed questionnaire based on the format used by Camp et al. Findings were not wholly consistent with Camp et al. There was a belief amongst the participants that smoking was a method of weight control, but this was not gender specific. Experimental smokers were significantly more likely than never or regular smokers to endorse the belief. The belief in smoking as a method of weight control reliably predicted regular smoking. Regular smokers of either gender that were classed as restricted eaters were more likely to smoke for weight control, than those who were not restricted eaters. In summary, there was a higher likelihood of being a regular smoker as opposed to a nonsmoker if the individual was an older female, believed that smoking controlled weight, had friends and or family members that smoked, positively evaluated the image of smokers, and was characterised as a risktaker or rebel. There was a higher likelihood of being a regular smoker as opposed to an experimental smoker if the individual was female, had friends and or family members that smoked, positively evaluated the image of smokers and was characterised as a risktaker or rebel. Implications for health educators may include the need to address the perception of smoking as a weight control method, especially amongst experimental smokers.

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