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College Females Skip Meals, Smoke to Lose Weight

But only 19 percent exercise enough to maintain a healthy weight

FRIDAY, March 31 (HealthDay News) -- Nine percent of college women smoke cigarettes to lose weight and 32 percent skip breakfast, but only 19 percent exercise enough to stay trim, according to a study published online March 31 in the Nutrition Journal.

Brenda M. Malinauskas, Ph.D., of East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C., and colleagues measured and weighed 185 female college students aged 18 to 24, and surveyed them about their dieting and exercise habits.

The researchers found that 83 percent of the women dieted to lose weight, and 80 percent said they used exercise to keep off excess pounds. But only 19 percent did enough exercise to manage their weight.

In the most common inappropriate weight-loss strategy, nine percent of the college women smoked cigarettes to lose weight, and 32 percent skipped breakfast, the researchers found .

"Collectively, results indicate female college students, regardless of weight status, would benefit from open discussions with health educators regarding healthy and effective dieting practices to achieve/maintain a healthy body weight," the authors wrote. "The results are subject to replication among high school, middle-aged, and older females."

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