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Eat Weight Disord. 2016 Dec;21(4):597-605. Epub 2016 Apr 23.

Eating disorders risk and its relation to self-esteem and body image in Iranian university students of medical sciences.

Author information

Student Research Committee, Faculty of Nutrition, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Golgasht St, Tabriz, Iran.
Department of Nutrition, Faculty of Health, Qazvin University of Medical Sciences, Qazvin, Iran.
Department of Biochemistry and Diet Therapy, Nutrition Research Center, Faculty of Nutrition, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran.
Tabriz Health Services Management Research Center, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran.
Department of Biochemistry and Diet Therapy, Faculty of Nutrition, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran.



Eating disorders are rapidly increasing in young adults. But, a few studies have examined the risk of eating disorders and body image in university students of non-Western societies. The current study aimed to assess eating disorders risk in relation to body image and self-esteem among Iranian university students.


The participants were 430 students from Tabriz, between April and May 2015. The 26-item Eating Attitude Test (EAT-26), Multidimensional Body-Self Relations Questionnaire (MBSRQ) and Rosenberg's Self-Esteem Questionnaires were used. EAT-26 score of 20 or more was considered as eating disorders risk cutoff.


Majority of the students (68 %) were females. The overall eating disorders risk was 9.5 % (7.5 and 10.5 % in men and women, respectively). Further, the prevalence of poor body image and low self-esteem was 34.2 and 16 %, respectively. Neither of the gender differences was statistically significant (p > 0.05). In simple logistic regression, there were significant associations between self-esteem, body image, parental education and eating disorders risk (p < 0.025). But, after adjustments for gender, age, Body Mass Index (BMI) and marital status, only self-esteem (OR = 0.37, 95 % = 0.16-0.87) and mother's education level (OR = 2.78, 95 % = 1.30-5.93) were predictors of eating disorders risk.


The findings revealed that low self-esteem and mother's higher education may increase eating disorders risk and the predictive role of body image possibly is by other mediators such as self-esteem. This warrants awareness improvement and developing appropriate interventions targeting self-esteem and self-respect of students.


Body image; Body satisfaction; Eating attitude; Eating disorders risk; Iranian university students; Self-esteem; Women’s health; Young adults

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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