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Weight Locus of Control

Increased attention has focused on the heightened prevalence of smoking among adolescents as a whole, both in high school and college settings. Tobacco use often begins in early adolescence, typically by age 16 (Klesges, Elliott, & Robinson, 1997). The percentage of high school seniors reporting daily smoking has increased from 18% in 1992 to 22% in 1996 (Gilpin, Choi, Berry, & Pierce, 1999). Generally one-third to one-half of students who ever try smoking become regular smokers (Everett, Warren, Sharp, Kann, Husten, & Crossett, 1999). The trend continues at the collegiate level as cigarette use increases nationwide in all types of colleges and universities (Wechsler, Rigotti, Gledhill-Hoyt, & Lee, 1998). Of specific concern is the perpetual rise in female adolescent smoking initiation and maintenance.

Sociocultural standards of attractive body shape for females promote thinness and concern with body image (French & Perry, 1996). Tobacco advertisements exploit these rising concerns with being slim by emphasizing the weight-controlling benefits of smoking (Greenfield, Quinlan, Harding, Glass, & Bliss, 1987). Increasing in number are the older adolescents, namely college females, who have utilized smoking as a means of controlling weight and as a form of dieting (Klesges & Klesges, 1988) to achieve the societal ideal weight. Since society places emphasizes female thinness and because smoking helps in controlling body weight (Wack & Rodin, 1982) many females, especially those who are overweight compared to their peers, use smoking as a weight loss strategy (Halek, Kerry, Humphrey, Crisp, & Hughes, 1993; Klesges & Klesges, 1988). Smoking enables females to lose substantial amounts of weight and to control their weight especially during child bearing years (Crisp, Sedgwick, Halek, Joughin, & Humphrey, 1999).

Women metabolize nicotine slower than men do, which may contribute to its enhanced effect on body weight among women (Jarry, Coambs, Polivy, & Herman, 1998). Nicotine also increases metabolism, thus decreasing caloric storage ability (Wack & Rodin, 1982). Smokers as a group, regardless of sex, socioeconomic status, or culture, weigh consistently less than persons who have never smoked (Wack & Rodin, 1982; Klesges & Myers, 1989).

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Weight Locus of Control