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J Biosoc Sci. 2014 Mar;46(2):240-7. doi: 10.1017/S0021932013000278. Epub 2013 Jun 12.

Association between exposure to media and body weight concern among female university students in five Arab countries: a preliminary cross-cultural study.

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* Nutrition and Health Studies Unit, Deanship of Scientific Research, University of Bahrain.
‡ Department of Mathematics, College of Science, University of Bahrain, Bahrain.


Mass media play an important role in changing body image. This study aimed to determine the role of media (magazines and television) in body weight concern among university females in five Arab countries. A total sample of 1134 female university students was selected at convenience from universities in five Arab countries: Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Oman and Syria. The females' ages ranged from 17 to 32. A pre-tested questionnaire was used to assess the exposure to mass media regarding weight concerns. For the variables on exposure to mass media, girls were divided into two groups: infrequently exposed and frequently exposed. In general, the females who were exposed to mass media had a greater risk of having dieted to lose weight and changing their ideas of a perfect body shape than those who were not exposed or infrequently exposed. The association of exposure to magazines with having dieted to lose weight was only significant among females in Bahrain (p<0.044), Egypt (p<0.001) and Jordan (p<0.001). Exposure to television had a weaker association than exposure to magazines with body weight concerns of females. The association of exposure to television with females' idea of a perfect body shape was only statistically significant in females in Egypt (p<0.019) and Oman (p<0.019). The pressure from mass media on the body weight concern of female university students may lead these women to practise unhealthy weight control diets.

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