To study the hypothesis that underweight may be more prevalent among dancing school students than among nondancing school girls, and that their teachers and peers may play a role in developing this tendency.
A case-control study on a convenience sample.
Two local dancing schools and one neighboring regular school.
Forty ballet students, aged 13 to 17 years, from four classes and 29 age-matched girls in four regular classes.
Each pupil was asked to classify herself and her peers as underweight, normal, or overweight; teachers were asked to classify their pupils by the same categories. Results were compared with an objective score, weight as a percentage of ideal weight for height, in which less than 85% indicates underweight; 85% to 115%, normal; and more than 115%, overweight. A higher prevalence of underweight as well as a significant tendency to overestimate self-evaluation was found among dancing students. Dancing teachers' evaluation tended to be inaccurate, especially regarding their underweight students.
The atmosphere in dancing classes may encourage striving for thinness beyond normal limits. Ballet teachers may play a significant role in this process. We suggest that physicians and nutritionists be involved in ballet schools.(Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1996;150:187-190)