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Revista de Psiquiatria do Rio Grande do Sul

Print version ISSN 0101-8108


LAUS, Maria Fernanda; MOREIRA, Rita de Cássia Margarido  and  COSTA, Telma Maria Braga. Differences in body image perception, eating behavior and nutritional status of college students of health and human sciences. Rev. psiquiatr. Rio Gd. Sul [online]. 2009, vol.31, n.3, pp.192-196. ISSN 0101-8108.

INTRODUCTION: The literature reports a higher prevalence of eating disorders among undergraduate students whose majors value physical appearance, including Physical Education and Nutrition. It is possible to assume that people concerned about their weight and body image may choose to take these majors because they are personally interested in the topic. The objective of this study was to assess the body image perception, eating behavior, and nutritional status of students of health and human sciences and to compare these data. METHOD: The Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26) and the Body Shape Questionnaire (BSQ) were administered to 127 first-year students of Nutrition and Physical Education (health sciences) and Advertising and Business Administration (human sciences) who also provided information on weight and height for calculation of their body mass index. RESULTS: We found a high prevalence of body image distortion in all groups, with no difference between areas or majors. The EAT-26 indicated higher scores in students of health than in those who studied human sciences, with the students majoring in Nutrition showing the highest scores, with statistical difference from the scores found in Advertising and Business Administration, but not in Physical Education. In addition, most students were classified as eutrophic and there were not obese individuals in any of the majors, with no significant difference between areas or majors for this variable. DISCUSSION: The high incidence of body image distortion associated with high prevalence of inappropriate eating behavior in students of health shows a possible susceptibility to the development of eating disorders.

Keywords : Body image; eating behavior; nutritional status; students; eating disorders.

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