, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 159-168

Body Mass Index and perceived weight status in young adults

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Body Mass Index (BMI) was calculated from self-reported height and weight for 1,123 university students who returned a questionnaire mailed to a 10 percent random sample of the entire undergraduate population of a large midwestern university. Seventeen percent of the females and 20 percent of the males were determined to be in excess of normal BMI standards. However, significantly more women (40%) considered themselves overweight in comparison to men (24%). Also, significantly more women (53%) than men (20%) reported experiencing discomfort due to excessive weight. Inaccurate perceptions of body image are common among individuals with eating disorders. There is a higher incidence of eating disorders among college-age women than among their male peers. A distorted body image as reflected by perceived overweight may serve as a marker for individuals at risk for eating disorders.

John P. Sciacca is Assistant Professor of Health Education; Amy C. Brown is Assistant Professor of Food and Nutrition Science; both are in the Department of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Food and Nutrition Science, School of Health Professions, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ 86011.
Christopher L. Melby is Associate Professor of Nutritional Science, Dept. of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523. Gerald C. Hyner is Associate Professor of Health Promotion and Paul L. Femea is Associate Professor of Nursing, both at Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47906.