Dieting Habits, Weight Status and Body Image Perception in a Sample of Lebanese University Students

Sandra Rizk, Najat Yehia

Research output: Other contributionpeer-review


Dieting Habits, Weight Status and Body Image Perception in a Sample of Lebanese University Students. (abstract published at the Obesity Society 2009 Annual Scientific Meeting, October 24 - 28, 2009, Washington, DC) Abstract Body: Background: Dieting is becoming a popular phenomenon among university students to achieve a healthy weight. University students, especially females, are concerned about body weight and place high importance on appearance. Body dissatisfaction promotes unhealthy eating behaviors. The purpose of this study is to obtain a preliminary understanding of what dieting habits university students use in order to maintain or achieve a healthy weight and determine the magnitude of body dissatisfaction, using the body shape questionnaire (BSQ), in relation to weight status among a sample of students from the Lebanese American University in Beirut. Methods: A sample of 150 students, with a mean age of 19 years, was selected randomly from University campus during Spring 2008. Students filled out a self-reported questionnaire that included questions on their dieting and physical activity habits in addition to the 34 items of the BSQ. Students’ BSQ scores were divided into four categories: “not worried” about body image (<80), “slightly worried” (81-110), “moderately worried” (111-140), and “extremely worried” (>140). Weight and height were measured to assess weight status. Percentage body fat was measured by using Tanita (TBF 300). Results: Outcomes of this study indicate that the majority of students are of normal weight. Percentage of body fat “above normal” was more common in female students than in males (45% of females vs. 34% of males). Male students were more active than females as 62% of male students reported regular physical activity practice compared to 40% of female students. Unhealthy dieting habits were not common among students: 95.3% of students reported not taking diet pills, 83% not taking laxatives and 82.7% not taking multivitamins. Smoking was not common among students. BSQ scores indicate that the majority of students were not preoccupied about their body image perception as 62% of students were “not worried”, 23.3% were “slightly worried”, 9.3% were “moderately worried “and 5.3% were “extremely worried”. A gender difference was observed in the BSQ scores. Females were more worried about their body shape than males as 88% of the extremely worried students were females, whereas, the majority of the “not worried” group were male students. Conclusion: Collectively, results indicate that university students would benefit from a health promotion awareness program to achieve/maintain healthy weight and promote good self image especially among females.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherObesity Society
StatePublished - Oct 27 2009


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