Journal of Community Health

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 159-168

Body Mass Index and perceived weight status in young adults

  • John P. SciaccaAffiliated withDept. of HPERF&N, School of Health Professions, Northern Arizona University
  • , Christopher L. Melby
  • , Gerald C. Hyner
  • , Amy C. Brown
  • , Paul L. Femea

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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.