Body Image, Eating Habits and Disorders among Female Students at Makerere University
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Body image perceptions among young female adults have a great impact on their quality of life due to the significant effect they have on a person’s ways of life. Positive body image is characterized by high self-esteem and accepting one’s body the way it is. It has been linked to a higher quality of life through better eating habits and physical activity. This study aimed to assess the body image perception, eating habits, and disorders present among female students at Makerere University. A cross-sectional study was conducted among 276 female students at Makerere University. A questionnaire was used to collect information on socio-demographic characteristics, body image perceptions, eating habits, and eating disorders. About half (51%) of the respondents were dissatisfied with their body weight and shape, 49% felt fat and had a strong desire to lose weight while about 68% of the respondents had normal weight. Nearly 7 in 10 (69%) of the respondents skipped meals and 69% snacked at least once a day. The food groups with the highest daily consumption were grains, cereals, and starchy vegetables (33%) and fat (30%). Binge Eating disorder was the most common Eating disorder (3%), with bulimia nervosa at 0.8% and anorexia nervosa at 0.6%. The study revealed that overall, the female students were dissatisfied with their body images. Despite the over and under-reported weight and height measurements, self-reported measurements were accurate enough to obtain valid BMI values.