Sociodemographic variables and body mass index associated with the risk of eating disorders in Spanish university students

  1. María-Camino Escolar-Llamazares 1
  2. María-Ángeles Martínez-Martín 1
  3. María-Begoña Medina-Gómez 1
  4. María-Yolanda González-Alonso 1
  5. Elvira Mercado-Val 1
  6. Fernando Lara-Ortega 1
  1. 1 Universidad de Burgos

    Universidad de Burgos

    Burgos, España


EJIHPE: European Journal of Investigation in Health, Psychology and Education

ISSN: 2174-8144 2254-9625

Ano de publicación: 2023

Volume: 13

Número: 3

Páxinas: 595-612

Tipo: Artigo

DOI: 10.3390/EJIHPE13030046 DIALNET GOOGLE SCHOLAR lock_openDialnet editor

Outras publicacións en: EJIHPE: European Journal of Investigation in Health, Psychology and Education

Objetivos de desarrollo sostenible


Background: The passage through university is a complex experience that can heighten personal susceptibility to eating disorders. The objective of this research is to determine how gender, age, course, educational faculty, and body mass index (BMI) can influence the risk of eating disorders among university students. Method: A transversal and descriptive study is conducted with a sample of 516 Spanish students (57.2% female, 42.8% male; Mage = 21.7, SDage = 4.1) following 26 university degrees. The Inventory Eating Disorder-Reference criterion (EDI-3-RF) was administered to the students. Contingency tables were used between categorical variables with the chi-squared statistic, at a significance level of p < 0.05. The Student t-test was used for two independent samples and a one-way ANOVA test with the post hoc Bonferroni test for more than two groups. Pearson’s correlation and a simple linear regression analysis were used to analyze the relationship between the variables in its quantitative version. Results: It was found that the female students enrolled in the second year presented a greater obsession with thinness and body dissatisfaction (p = 0.029; d = 0.338); the male students practiced more physical exercise to control their weight (p = 0.003); and that students under the age of twenty (p < 0.010; d = 0.584) and students from both the Health (p = 0.0.13) and Law (p = 0.021) educational faculties showed greater bulimic behavior (d = 0.070). More females are underweight (z = 2.8), and more men are overweight (z = 2.4). Normal-weight students scored significantly higher in thinness obsession (p = 0.033). Overweight students scored significantly higher on thinness obsession (p < 0.001) and body dissatisfaction (p < 0.001). Obese students scored significantly higher on body dissatisfaction (p = 0.04). Conclusions: The data obtained in this study, reinforce the hypothesis that the female gender, at an age within the limits of early adolescence, in the first year of the degree courses, with specific university qualifications, and a high BMI constituted factors that could provoke an eating disorder. Consequently, it is necessary to implement preventive measures adapted to the circumstances of each university student.

Referencias bibliográficas

  • Martínez Martín, M.A.; Bilbao León, M.C. Los Trastornos de La Conducta Alimentaria En El Contexto Universitario. In Todo sobre los Trastornos de la Conducta Alimentaria; Una visión multidisciplinar desde la experiencia y la evidencia científica; Martínez Martín, M., Colaboradores, Eds.; Altaria: Tarragona, Spain, 2015; pp. 535–564.
  • Barrera-Herrera, A.; Neira-Cofré, M.; Raipán-Gómez, P.; Riquelme-Lobos, P.; Escobar, B. Apoyo Social Percibido y Factores Sociodemográficos En Relación Con Los Síntomas de Ansiedad, Depresión y Estrés En Universitarios Chilenos. Rev. Psicopatología y Psicol. Clínica 2019, 24, 105.
  • Daly, M.; Costigan, E. Trends in Eating Disorder Risk among U.S. College Students, 2013–2021. Psychiatry Res. 2022, 317, 10–13.
  • Foran, A.M.; Muldoon, O.T.; O’Donnell, A.T. Identity Processes and Eating Disorder Symptoms during University Adjustment: A Cross-Sectional Study. J. Eat. Disord. 2021, 9, 44.
  • Momeni, M.; Ghorbani, A.; Arjeini, Z. Disordered Eating Attitudes among Iranian University Students of Medical Sciences: The Role of Body Image Perception. Nutr. Health 2020, 26, 127–133.
  • Sáenz Duran, S.; González Martínez, F.; Díaz Cárdenas, S. Hábitos y Trastornos Alimenticios Asociados a Factores SocioDemográficos, Físicos y Conductuales En Universitarios de Cartagena, Colombia. Rev. Clínica Med. Fam. 2011, 4, 193–204.
  • González-Carrascosa, R.; García-Segovia, P.; Martínez-Monzo, J. Valoraciónn de La Imagen Corporal y de Los Comportamientos Alimentarios En Universitarios. Rev. Psicopatol. Psicol. Clin. 2013, 18, 45–59.
  • Nasrallah, C.; Kimmel, L.; Khaled, S.M. Associations between Weight Loss Difficulty, Disordered Eating Behaviors and Poor Weight Loss Outcomes in Arab Female University Students. Eat. Behav. 2020, 36, 101363.
  • Association American Psychiatry. Manual Diagnóstico y Estadístico de Los Trastornos Mentales (DSM-5); Editorial Médica Panamericana: Madrid, Spain, 2014.
  • Chin, Y.S.; Appukutty, M.; Kagawa, M.; Gan, W.Y.; Wong, J.E.; Poh, B.K.; Shariff, Z.M.; Taib, M.N.M. Comparison of Factors Associated with Disordered Eating between Male and Female Malaysian University Students. Nutrients 2020, 12, 318.
  • Garner, D.M. EDI-3 RF. Inventario de Trastornos de La Conducta Alimentaria-3; TEA; Ediciones: Madrid, Spain, 2010.
  • González-Alonso, M.Y.; Escolar-Llamazares, M.C.; Martín, M.Á.M.; Gómez, M.B.M.; Val, E.M. Comorbidity of Eating Disorders with Anxiety and Depression in University Students: Systematic Review. Rev. Argentina Clin. Psicol. 2019, 28, 375–384.
  • Escolar-LLamazares, M.C.; Martínez Martín, M.A.; González Alonso, M.Y.; Medina Gómez, M.B.; Mercado Val, E.; Lara Ortega, F. Risk Factors of Eating Disorders in University Students. Rev. Mex. Trastor. Aliment. 2017, 8, 105–112.
  • Keshk, M.M.; Fahim, H.I.; Hassan, A.M.; Boulos, D.N. Body Image Perception and Self-Esteem among University Students in Cairo. Egypt. J. Community Med. 2019, 37, 82–96.
  • Franco, K.; Jesús Díaz, F.; López-Espinoza, A.; Escoto, M.C.; Camacho, E.J. Variables Predictoras de Riesgo de Trastorno Del Comportamiento Alimentario En Mujeres. Ter. Psicológica 2013, 31, 219–225.
  • Sandoz, E.K.; Boullion, G.Q.; Mallik, D.; Hebert, E.R. Relative Associations of Body Image Avoidance Constructs with Eating Disorder Pathology in a Large College Student Sample. Body Image 2020, 34, 242–248.
  • Leiva, V.A.; Tapia, C.N.; Bergeret, Á.Q.; Pérez, C.U. Dissatisfaction with Body Image and Nutritional Status in University Students. Rev. Psicoter. 2020, 31, 279–294.
  • Aguiar dos Reis, J.; Rodrigues Silva Júnior, C.R.; De Pinho, L. Factors Associated with the Risk of Eating Disorders among Academics in the Area of Health. Rev. Gaúcha Enferm. 2014, 35, 73–78.
  • Chan, Y.L.; Samy, A.L.; Tong, W.T.; Islam, M.A.; Low, W.Y. Eating Disorder Among Malaysian University Students and Its Associated Factors. Asia Pacific J. Public Health 2020, 32, 334–339.
  • Galarsi, M.F.; Correche, M.S.; Ledezma, C. Conductas y Actitudes Hacia La Alimentación En Una Muestra de Mujeres Jóvenes. Fundam. Humanid. 2010, 1, 193–205.
  • Peña Salgado, N.D.P.; López de Arco, S.P.; Liévano Fiesco, M.C. Conductas Alimentarias Asociadas a TCA En Estudiantes Universitarios Que Asisten a Un Centro de Formación Deportiva. Rev. Iberoam. Psicol. Cienc. Tecnol. 2014, 7, 29–38.
  • Barnhart, W.R.; Braden, A.L.; Price, E. Emotion Regulation Difficulties Interact with Negative, Not Positive, Emotional Eating to Strengthen Relationships with Disordered Eating: An Exploratory Study. Appetite 2021, 158, 105038.
  • Berengüí, R.; Castejón, M.Á.; Torregrosa, M.S. Body Dissatisfaction, Risk Behaviors and Eating Disorders in University Students. Rev. Mex. Trastor. Aliment. 2016, 7, 1–8.
  • Medina-Gómez, M.B.; Martínez-Martín, M.Á.; Escolar-Llamazares, M.C.; González-Alonso, Y.; Mercado-Val, E. Anxiety and Body Dissatisfaction in University Students. Acta Colomb. Psicol. 2019, 22, 13–21.
  • Brati´c, B.; Triglianos, V.; Kurbalija, V.; Pautasso, C.; Ivanovi´c, M. Role of Interactive Presentation Platform ASQ in Delivering Web Design Course. Smart Learn. Environ. 2020, 7, 44.
  • Hamamoto, Y.; Suzuki, S.; Sugiura, M. Two Components of Body-Image Disturbance Are Differentially Associated with Distinct Eating Disorder Characteristics in Healthy Young Women. PLoS ONE 2022, 17, e0262513.
  • Harrer, M.; Adam, S.H.; Messner, E.M.; Baumeister, H.; Cuijpers, P.; Bruffaerts, R.; Auerbach, R.P.; Kessler, R.C.; Jacobi, C.; Taylor, C.B.; et al. Prevention of Eating Disorders at Universities: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Int. J. Eat. Disord. 2020, 53, 813–833.
  • Castellano, S.; Rizzotto, A.; Neri, S.; Currenti, W.; Guerrera, C.S.; Pirrone, C.; Coco, M.; Di Corrado, D. The Relationship between Body Dissatisfaction and Eating Disorder Symptoms in Young Women Aspiring Fashion Models: The Mediating Role of Stress. Eur. J. Investig. Health Psychol. Educ. 2021, 11, 607–615.
  • Kowalkowska, J.; Poínhos, R. Eating Behaviour among University Students: Relationships with Age, Socioeconomic Status, Physical Activity, Body Mass Index, Waist-to-Height Ratio and Social Desirability. Nutrients 2021, 13, 3622.
  • Du, C.; Adjepong, M.; Chong, M.; Zan, H.; Cho, M.J.; Fenton, J.I.; Hsiao, P.Y.; Keaver, L.; Lee, H.; Ludy, M.; et al. Gender Differences in the Relationships between Perceived Stress, Eating Behaviors, Sleep, Dietary Risk, and Body Mass Index. Nutrients 2022, 14, 1045.
  • Faus Boronat, G. Trastornos de La Conducta Alimentaria En Varones. In Todo sobre los Trastornos de la Conducta Alimentaria. Una Visión Multidisciplinar Desde la Experiencia y la Evidencia Científica; Matínez Martin, M.Á., Ed.; Altaria: Madrid, Spain, 2015; pp. 191–2014.
  • Martínez-González, L.; Fernandez Villa, T.; Molina De La Torre, A.J.; Ayan Pérez, C.; Bueno Cavanillas, A.; Capelo Álvarez, R.; Mateo Campos, R.; Martín Sández, V. Prevalencia de Trastornos de La Conducta Alimentaria En Universitarios Españoles y Factores Asociados: Proyecto UniHcos. Nutr. Hosp. 2014, 30, 927–934.
  • Toral, N.; Gubert, M.B.; Spaniol, A.M.; Monteiro, R.A. Eating Disorders and Body Image Satisfaction among Brazilian Undergraduate Nutrition Students and Dietitians. Arch. Latinoam. Nutr. 2016, 66, 129–134.
  • García Alba, J.; Solbes Canales, I.; Expósito Casas, E.; Navarro Asencio, E. Imagen Corporal y Riesgo de Trastornos de La Conducta Alimentaria En Población Universitaria Española: Diferencias de Género. Rev. Orientación Educ. 2012, 26, 31–46.
  • Kanayama, G.; Hudson, J.I.; Pope Jr, H.G. Anabolic-Androgenic Steroid Use and Body Image in Men: A Growing Concern for Clinicians. Psychother. Psychosom. 2020, 89, 65–73.
  • Ramos-Jiménez, A.; Hernández-Torres, R.P.; Urquidez-Romero, R.; Wall-Medrano, A.; Villalobos-Molina, R. Body Image Satisfaction as a Physical Activity Indicator in University Students. Am. J. Health Behav. 2017, 41, 599–607.
  • Sepúlveda, A.R.; Gandarillas, A.; Carrobles, J.A. Prevalencia de Trastornos Del Comportamiento En La Población Universitaria. Rev. Psiquiatr. Com 2004, 8, 2.
  • Gómez Sánchez, R.; Gómez Sánhez, R.; Díaz Cuenca, A.M.; Fortea Gorbe, M.I.; Salorio del Moral, P. Prevalencia de Los Trastornos de Alimentación En Una Muestra Universitaria. Ansiedad Como Factor de Modulación. Index Enfermería 2010, 19, 124–128.
  • Lameiras, M.; Calado, M.; Rodríguez, Y.; Fernández, M. Hábitos Alimentarios e Imagen Corporal En Estudiantes Universitarios Sin Trastornos Alimentarios. Rev. Int. Psicol. Clínica Salud. Int. J. Clin. Health Psychol. 2003, 3, 23–33.
  • Schilder, C.M.T.; Sternheim, L.C.; Aarts, E.; van Elburg, A.A.; Danner, U.N. Relationships between Educational Achievement, Intelligence, and Perfectionism in Adolescents with Eating Disorders. Int. J. Eat. Disord. 2021, 54, 794–801.
  • Andersen, A. Eating Disorders and Obesity, 2nd ed.; A Comprehensive Handbook; The Guildford Press: New York, NY, USA, 2005.
  • Schaefer, L.M.; Rodgers, R.F.; Thompson, J.K.; Griffiths, S. A Test of the Tripartite Influence Model of Disordered Eating among Men. Body Image 2021, 36, 172–179.
  • Bibiloni, M.M.; Coll, J.L.; Pich, J.; Pons, A.; Tur, J.A. Body Image Satisfaction and Weight Concerns among a Mediterranean Adult Population. BMC Public Health 2017, 17, 39.
  • Gropper, S.S.; Arsiwalla, D.D.; Lord, D.C.; Huggins, K.W.; Simmons, K.P.; Ulrich, P.V. Associations among Eating Regulation and Body Mass Index, Weight, and Body Fat in College Students: The Moderating Role of Gender. Eat. Behav. 2014, 15, 321–327.
  • Kriaucioniene, V.; Raskiliene, A.; Petrauskas, D.; Petkeviciene, J. Trends in Eating Habits and Body Weight Status, Perception Patterns and Management Practices among First-Year Students of Kaunas (Lithuania) Universities, 2000–2017. Nutrients 2021, 13, 1599.
  • Beaudry, K.M.; Ludwa, I.A.; Thomas, A.M.; Ward, W.E.; Falk, B.; Josse, A.R. First-Year University Is Associated with Greater Body Weight, Body Composition and Adverse Dietary Changes in Males than Females. PLoS ONE 2019, 14, e0218554.
  • Mueller, M.P.; Blondin, S.A.; Korn, A.R.; Bakun, P.J.; Tucker, K.L.; Economos, C.D. Behavioral Correlates of Empirically-Derived Dietary Patterns among University Students. Nutrients 2018, 10, 716.
  • Novais, A.I.D.; de Oliveira, I.B.L.; Martins, P.C.; Santos, V.M.; de Oliveira Penaforte, F.R. Fatores Associados Ao Ganho de Peso Após o Ingresso Na Universidade. El J. Food Cult. Am. 2020, 2, 60–79.
  • Sousa, T.F.D.; Barbosa, A.R. Prevalence of Body Weight Excess in Undergraduate Students: Analysis of Repeated Surveys. Rev. Bras. Epidemiol. 2017, 20, 586–597.
  • Bo, S.; Zoccali, R.; Ponzo, V.; Soldati, L.; De Carli, L.; Benso, A.; Fea, E.; Rainoldi, A.; Durazzo, M.; Fassino, S.; et al. University Courses, Eating Problems and Muscle Dysmorphia: Are There Any Associations? J. Transl. Med. 2014, 12, 221.
  • Silva Vereau, J.E. Factores Asociados a La Elección de Una Especialidad Quirúrgica en Estudiantes de Sesenta y Tres Escuelas de Medicina de Latinoamérica; Universidad Privada Antenor Orrego—UPAO: Trujillo, Peru, 2016.
  • Lupo, R.; Zaminga, M.; Carriero, M.C.; Santoro, P.; Artioli, G.; Calabrò, A.; Ilari, F.; Benedetto, A.; Caslini, M.; Clerici, M.; et al. “Eating Disorders and Related Stigma”: Analysis among a Population of Italian Nursing Students. Acta Biomed. 2020, 91, 1–12.
  • Kinzl, J.F.; Hauer, K.; Traweger, C.; Kiefer, I. Orthorexia Nervosa in Dieticians. Psychother. Psychosom. 2006, 75, 395–396.
  • Rocks, T.; Pelly, F.; Slater, G.; Martin, L.A. Eating Attitudes and Behaviours of Students Enrolled in Undergraduate Nutrition and Dietetics Degrees. Nutr. Diet. 2017, 74, 381–387.
  • Cancela Carral, J.M.; Ayán Pérez, C. Prevalencia y Relación Entre El Nivel de Actividad Física y Las Actitudes Alimenticias Anómalas En Estudiantes Universitarias Españolas de Ciencias de La Salud y La Educación. Rev. Esp. Salud Publica 2011, 85, 499–505.
  • Yager, Z.; Gray, T.; Curry, C.; McLean, S.A. Body Dissatisfaction, Excessive Exercise, and Weight Change Strategies Used by First-Year Undergraduate Students: Comparing Health and Physical Education and Other Education Students. J. Eat. Disord. 2017, 5, 10.
  • Jiménez-Limas, K.; Miranda-Barrera, V.A.; Muñoz-Díaz, K.F.; Novales-Huidobro, S.R.; Chico-Barba, G. Body Dissatisfaction, Distorted Body Image and Disordered Eating Behaviors in University Students: An Analysis from 2017–2022. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19, 11482.
  • Montero, I.; León, O.G. A Guide for Naming Research Studies in Psychology. Int. J. Clin. Health Psichol. 2007, 7, 847–862.
  • Suárez Falcón, J.C.; Recio Saboya, P.; San Luis Costas, M.C.; Pozo Cabanillas, M.P. Introducción Al Análisis de Datos. Aplicaciones En Psicología y Ciencias de La Salud; Sanz y Torres-UNED: Madrid, Spain, 2019; ISBN 978-84-17765-42-2.
  • George, D.; Mallery, P. SPSS/PC+ Step by Step: A Simple Guide and Reference; Wadsworth: Belmont, CA, USA, 1995.
  • Cohen, J. Statistical Power Analysis for the Behavioral Sciences; Academic Press: New York, NY, USA, 2013.
  • Míguez Bernárdez, M.; De la Montaña Miguélez, J.; González Carnero, J.; González Rodríguez, M. Concordancia Entre La Autopercepción de La Imagen Corporal y El Estado Nutricional En Universitarios de Orense. Nutr. Hosp. 2011, 26, 472–479.
  • Al-Jumayan, A.A.; Al-Eid, N.A.; AlShamlan, N.A.; AlOmar, R.S. Prevalence and Associated Factors of Eating Disorders in Patrons of Sport Centers in Saudi Arabia. J. Fam. Community Med. 2021, 28, 94–102.
  • Cooper, P.J.; Goodyer, I. Prevalence and Significance of Weight and Shape Concerns in Girls Aged 11–16 Years. Br. J. Psychiatry 1997, 171, 542–544.
  • McAndrew, A.J.; Menna, R.; Oldershaw, M. Disordered Eating and Barriers to Help-Seeking: A Brief Report. Eat. Disord. 2020, 30, 239–248.
  • Radwan, H.; Hasan, H.A.; Ismat, H.; Hakim, H.; Khalid, H.; Al-Fityani, L.; Mohammed, R.; Ayman, A. Body Mass Index Perception, Body Image Dissatisfaction and Their Relations with Weight-Related Behaviors among University Students. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 1541.
  • Alipour, B.; Abbasalizad Farhangi, M.; Dehghan, P.; Alipour, M. Body Image Perception and Its Association with Body Mass Index and Nutrient Intakes among Female College Students Aged 18–35 Years from Tabriz, Iran. Eat. Weight Disord. 2015, 20, 465–471.
  • Dakanalis, A.; Pla-Sanjuanelo, J.; Caslini, M.; Volpato, C.; Riva, G.; Clerici, M.; Carrà, G. Predicting Onset and Maintenance of Men’s Eating Disorders. Int. J. Clin. Health Psychol. 2016, 16, 247–255.
  • Nikniaz, Z.; Mahdavi, R.; Amiri, S.; Ostadrahimi, A.; Nikniaz, L. Factors Associated with Body Image Dissatisfaction and Distortion among Iranian Women. Eat. Behav. 2016, 22, 5–9.
  • Invitada, E. Editorial Invitada. World 2007, 1, 1–2.
  • Fernández Aranda, F.; Turon Gil, V. Trastornos de La Alimentación. In Guía Básica de Tratamiento En Anorexia y Bulimia; Masson: Barcelona, Spain, 1998.
  • Castelao-Naval, O.; Blanco-Fernández, A.; Meseguer-Barros, C.M.; Thuissard-Vasallo, I.J.; Cerdá, B.; Larrosa, M. Estilo de Vida y Riesgo de Trastorno Alimentario Atípico En Estudiantes Universitarios: Realidad versus Percepción. Enfermería Clínica 2019, 29, 280–290.
  • Cain, A.S.; Epler, A.J.; Steinley, D.; Sher, K.J. Concerns Related to Eating, Weight, and Shape: Typologies and Transitions in Men during the College Years. Int. J. Eat. Disord. 2012, 45, 768–775.
  • Ruiz Lázaro, P.M. Prevención de Los Trastornos de La Conducta Alimentaria y Los Diversos Ámbitos de Actuación. In Todo sobre los Trastornos de la Conducta Alimentaria; Una visión multidisciplinar desde la experiencia y la evidencia científica; Martínez Martín, M.A., Ed.; Altaria: Tarragona, Spain, 2015; pp. 431–476.
  • Barnett, P.; Arundell, L.L.; Saunders, R.; Matthews, H.; Pilling, S. The Efficacy of Psychological Interventions for the Prevention and Treatment of Mental Health Disorders in University Students: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. J. Affect. Disord. 2021, 280, 381–406.