Research related to body weight management often focuses on weight loss but attempts to gain weight may be common given societal ideals related to body shape and size. The objectives of this study were to examine the prevalence and correlates of intentional weight gain attempts and to characterize weight gain strategies reported among young Canadian adults. Cross-sectional data were drawn from a 2017 online survey of young adults, aged 17 to 32 years, recruited from five large cities (n=976, 493 men and 483 women). The prevalence of weight gain attempts and specific strategies used were estimated, with multivariable logistic regression used to examine correlates of intent to gain weight. Over one in five men (23.1%) and approximately one in twenty women (6.0%) reported attempting to gain weight in the past 12 months. Men, those who perceived themselves as underweight (compared to “just about right”), and those who reported one or more racial/ethnic identity or did not state their race/ethnicity (compared to white only) had higher odds of reporting attempting to gain weight. Individuals who perceived themselves as overweight or who self-reported heights and weights corresponding to a BMI between 25 and 29.9 had lower odds of reporting attempting to gain weight. Those attempting to gain weight reported using three strategies on average, with the most prevalent among both men and women including eating more overall, eating more protein, and exercising/weightlifting. The results suggest that, while less common than dieting, weight gain attempts are not rare, especially among young men.
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