Body image perceptions and the prevalence of body dissatisfaction and dysfunctional eating among an undergraduate female sample
University of Wales
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Since the beginning of the 20th century, mainstream society has become fixated with body shape, weight and appearance (Ings-Chambers, 2011). As an issue that has long been established among the widespread female population, body disturbances and eating pathology are often misconstrued concepts (Turner, 2011). This study seeks to identify individual body image perceptions, and establish the prevalence of disordered eating and body dissatisfaction among a group of female undergraduate students. Participants (n = 55) completed four self-report questionnaires including; demographical information, the Eating Disorder Inventory- 1 (EDI- 1), a section specifically relating to individual body image perceptions, in addition to the Body Shape Questionnaire (BSQ). Results were documented as frequencies or descriptive mean values with standard deviations. Subjects were collapsed into two BMI categories; <25kg/m², (n = 35) versus ≥25kg/m², (n = 20), for group comparisons between the EDI-1 and BSQ. The main finding was that undergraduate females displaying high BMI values (≥25 kg/m², n = 20) achieved significantly elevated scores on the BSQ (132.7 ± 8.9) and EDI-1 (32.7 ± 5.6), compared to those with lower BMI values (<25 kg/m², n = 35), (95.1 ± 4.9 and 12.3 ± 1.6, respectively). The current findings suggest that young adult women are dissatisfied with body image regardless of weight status; however, overweight and obese individuals are, to a greater extent (abnormally) dissatisfied with their bodies, and consequently display a greater vulnerability to the engagement of maladaptive eating behaviours. Health professionals should continue to promote healthy eating and physical activity behaviours, particularly among individuals with heightened levels of body dissatisfaction or disordered eating attitudes. Based on the present findings, future research is required to elucidate the categorical differences of BMI across larger samples. Additional studies should examine greater overall sample sizes that incorporate populations of various ages and ethnic groups.
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