An outbreak of body weight dissatisfaction associated with self-perceived BMI and dieting among female pharmacy students

Biomed Pharmacother. 2009 Nov;63(9):679-92. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2008.08.005. Epub 2008 Sep 13.


Some reports indicate that in various groups of society living in the highly developed countries a body weight perception and weight satisfaction tend to be inappropriate when compared with body mass index (BMI) calculated from estimated actual weight and height. Thus in present studies a relationship between body weight perceptions, measured actual BMI, gender, and dieting practices in a sample population of pharmacy students in Poland were examined to verify hypothesis that their incorrect self-perception would provoke occasional, seasonal and permanent eating disorders. Height and weight data of 178 pharmacy students (mean age 22.6+/-2.4 years) in Bydgoszcz, Poland, were collected and validated by completed self-reported questionnaire assessing their self-perceived body weight, desired body weight and past/current dieting practices. Only 34.4% of female and 37.1% of male pharmacy students was satisfied with their current body weight. Statistical analyses revealed significant differences in estimated BMI status (chi(2)=28.5; p=0.0001), desired body weight (chi(2)=15.6; p=0.0004) and past dieting (chi(2)=7.6; p=0.0050) by gender. In the male sub-group of students (n=27) unclear association (chi(2)=6.1; p=0.046) between measured actual BMI status and self-perceived body weight have been presented. Moreover, in male students a significant relationship (chi(2)=4.9; p=0.0261) between actual BMI status and both past as well as current weight control behavior in the form of dieting practices was exhibited. In case of a sub-group of female students (n=151) a diffuse association of actual BMI and self-perception of their body weight (chi(2)=69.5; p=0.0001) was obtained. However, a close relation (chi(2)=16.9; p=0.0007) between actual BMI and only past dieting practices was observed in females. Furthermore, in this last sub-group of students the significant relationship (chi(2)=53.9; p=0.0001) between measured actual BMI and desired body weight was also demonstrated. The study showed an evidence of distorted self-perception of body weight in both sub-groups of considered pharmacy students. There was a tendency to overestimate of body weight in female students, and to underestimate in male students. These results suggest common dissatisfaction of body weight, especially among females, who were more often engaged in dieting, despite not being overweight or obese according to measured actual BMI status.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Body Image
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Body Weight*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Self Concept*
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Students, Pharmacy*
  • Young Adult