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Emily Heying, Nutrition


Background A majority of the population struggles with body image everyday. However, college students/young adults seem to struggle the most. In a recent Psychology Today Body Image Survey, 56% of college-aged women and 43% of college-aged men were dissatisfied with their overall appearance. Objective To assess how accurate college-aged males and females are in estimating own body images by measuring perceived vs. actual BMI and to analyze if a participant’s nutritional background knowledge affects the accuracy of BMI prediction. Methods One time data collection was used. Participants (n=23 female, n=17 male) estimated BMI via silhouette choice. After BMI estimation, participant height and weight were collected to determine actual BMI and compare to perceived BMI to determine accuracy. Participants also completed two body image assessment surveys and a nutrition knowledge questionnaire. Results of survey and questionnaire were used to investigate influences on BMI estimation accuracy. Results Females were more accurate in predicting actual BMI (-0.7+2.6) than males (1.6 + 3.6) (p=0.014). A total of 12 females underestimated BMI, while 11 female overestimated BMI (n=23). A total of 12 males underestimated BMI, while 5 overestimated BMI (n=16). Males had significantly higher average actual BMI (25.5 + 5.1 kg/m2) than females (22.4 + 2.8 kg/m2) (p=0.018). Fourth years significantly underestimated BMI (-0.71 + 2.1) while third years (1.9 + 4.8), second years (0.6 +2.6), and first years (1.9 + 3.4) significantly overestimated BMI (p=0.047). Body Shape Questionnaire scores and Body Appreciation Scale scores did not differ by General Nutrition Knowledge Questionnaire performance. Conclusions Some recognized themes from the data suggest that undergraduate females were more accurate in predicting their BMI than undergraduate males. Fourth years significantly underestimated BMI while third years, second years, and first years significantly overestimated BMI. BSQ scores and BAS scores did not differ by GNKQ performance. These results provide an opportunity of awareness to enforce positive body image in young adults.

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