202381 Examination of perceived body image and body mass index in college students

Monday, November 9, 2009

Susan Huynh, MPH, CHES , Department of Health Sciences, California State University, Northridge, Northridge, CA
Vicki Ebin, MSPH, PhD , Health Sciences Department, California State University, Northridge, Northridge, CA
Purpose Body image is a common issue in the university setting. According to the Spring 2008 American College Health Association National College Health Assessment, about 54.7% of the students responded that they felt their weight was about the right weight, while 31.4% felt that they were slightly overweight. This study also examined if there was a relationship between perceived body image and body mass index (BMI) of college students. Methods A cross-sectional study using a self-administered survey was conducted on 1,054 students across a university campus in order to better understand the association between perceived body image and BMI. During a span of two weeks, data were collected and analyzed using SPSS to make inferences. Results There was an association between perceived body image and body mass index (BMI), p<0.001. Of those students who perceived themselves as slightly overweight, 35.8% had a BMI in the underweight range, 41.6% had a normal BMI range, 43.1% had a BMI in the overweight range, and 12.9% had a BMI in the obese range. Additional analyses explored the impact of demographics, depressive affect, and self-esteem on perceived body image and BMI. Conclusion This study found a relationship between perceived body image and BMI among students. In general, students' perceptions of their body were consistent with their actual body mass index. These results will help guide the planning of programs to teach students how to maintain a health body mass index as well as how to develop a healthier, more realistic view of their body.

Learning Objectives:
Describe the relationship between perceived body image and body mass index in colleges students. Discuss three factors which influence perceived body image.

Keywords: College Students, Weight Management

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I completed my Master of Public Health degree at the California State University, Northridge in May 2009, and I am CHES certified as of April 2009.
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.