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Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry

versão impressa ISSN 1516-4446versão On-line ISSN 1809-452X


NUNES, Maria Angélica; OLINTO, Maria Teresa A; BARROS, Fernando C  e  CAMEY, Suzi. Influence of body mass index and body weight perception on eating disorders symptoms. Rev. Bras. Psiquiatr. [online]. 2001, vol.23, n.1, pp.21-27. ISSN 1516-4446.

OBJECTVE: To investigate the relationship between body mass index (BMI), body weight perception and eating disorder symptoms. METHODS: A population-based cross-sectional study was conducted among women aged between 12 and 29 years old in Porto Alegre, Brazil (n=513). The prevalence of eating disorder symptoms was assessed by using two instruments: the Eating Attitudes Test - 26 (EAT-26) and the Bulimic Investigator Test (BITE). The results of the screening tests were evaluated separately and as a score combination of both instruments. Body weight perception was assessed using two questions: a) what was regarded as the ideal weight, and b) self-perception of body weight. The body mass index was calculated by dividing the square of the height (cm) by the weight (kg). RESULTS: Regarding the results of the combined scores, 30.2% of the interviewed women were classified as having risk of eating disorder and 11.3% had abnormal eating behavior. The sample's mean BMI was 21.9 (SD=3.8); 82.4% were classified as normal, 1.6% as thin and 16.1% as overweight/obese. Of the total of the study women, 46% had an ideal weight lower than their actual weight and 37.8% considered themselves fat. Among women with normal BMI, 25.2% that were classified as normal presented risk of abnormal eating behavior and 5.7% had eating disorder symptoms. Among women who considered themselves fat, 47.2% presented risk behaviors and 19.2% had eating disorder symptoms. The risk for eating disorder symptoms among women who saw themselves as fat was four times higher than among those who perceived their weight as normal (odds ratio 4.50; 95% CI 2.88-7.01; p<0.001). CONCLUSION: In the assessment of body weight perception, "to feel fat" reveals to play a more important role in the determination of abnormal eating behavior than the Body Mass Index.

Palavras-chave : Body weight; Body mass index; Eating disorders symptoms.

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