Background: In this study, we sought to determine whether dissatisfaction with one’s body was associated with unhealthy behaviours among University students.
Subjects and Methods: A cross-section of 383 male and female students recruited from the general University population completed a questionnaire consisting of socio-demographic items, Eating Attitudes Test (EATS-26), Body Shape Questionnaire (BSQ-16), Body Silhouette Chart, Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSE) and the Centre for Epidemiologic Studies depression scale (CES-D).
Results: Overall, 4.2% of participants reported to have been diagnosed with an eating problem. Females had significantly higher EATS-26, BSQ-16 and RSE scores than males. They were significantly more likely than males to choose silhouettes that were underweight to represent their current or desired body sizes and to engage in dieting behaviours. Additionally, persons who reported being diagnosed with an eating disorder were significantly more likely than those not diagnosed to report binging, bulimic and other eating-related behaviours (p < 0.01). For both males and females, perceived body image was significantly and positively associated with BSQ-16, EATS-26, and CES-D and inversely associated with RSE scores. Females of Africandescent were significantly more likely than those of East Indian descent and other ethnic groups to report higher weights and to select larger silhouettes to represent their current body figure.
Conclusions: Among participants, body dissatisfaction was associated with increased risk for depression, lower self-esteem, disordered eating and other weight related behaviours.