178526 Pathological Behaviors Associated with the Desire to be Thin: A Study of College Students

Monday, October 27, 2008

A. Serdar Atav, PhD , Decker School of Nursing, Binghamton University, Binghamton, NY
Jennifer Wegmann, MASS , Health and Physical Education, Binghamton University, Binghamton, NY
Sarah Thompson, MASS , Health and Physical Education, Binghamton University, Binghamton, NY
The percentage of adolescents and adults who are overweight or obese have hit a historical high in the US. According to the CDC, 66.3% of adults and 45.9% of adolescents are overweight or obese. Ironically, while the country has been expanding its waist line, many have developed a dangerous preoccupation with the desire to be thinner. Both men and women are susceptible to body image concerns which may lead to the development of pathological behaviors. Moreover, many women and men of normal weight as defined by BMI have a desire to be thinner.

The purpose of this study is to examine pathological behaviors associated with the desire to be thin among college students. To this end, close to 1,000 undergraduate college students were surveyed in health and physical activity classes at Binghamton University in Upstate New York. The survey instrument consisted of a variety of questions, including questions on demographics, substance use, social relationships, school work, exercise habits, eating habits, and diet history and patterns.

Initial analyses of the data indicate that 10% of the respondents used diuretics; 20% used diet pills; 11% used laxatives; 30% fasted; 15% vomited; 26% exercised compulsively; and 24% binged. About four percent of the respondents were underweight, 57% normal weight, 18% overweight and 9% obese.

This presentation will include detailed analyses of pathological eating behaviors and their relationship to BMI, body perception, body image, social relationships, and school work, gender, ethnicity, and other demographic factors.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe prevalence of pathological behaviors associated with the desire to be thin among a sample of college students. 2. Analyze relationships among pathological behaviors, BMI, social relationships, school work, exercise and eating habits, and demographic factors. 3. Examine differences in pathological behaviors between male and female college students.

Keywords: College Students, Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: College professor in a School of Nursing, specializing in adolescent health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.