Associations of self-esteem with body mass index and body image among Saudi college-age females

Eat Weight Disord. 2019 Dec;24(6):1199-1207. doi: 10.1007/s40519-017-0471-0. Epub 2017 Dec 27.


Purpose: To examine the association of self-esteem with the body mass index (BMI), perceived body image (BI), and desired BI of college-age Saudi females.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted with 907 randomly selected females using a multistage stratified cluster sampling technique. Self-esteem and BI were assessed using the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale and Stunkard Figure Rating Scale, respectively.

Results: The prevalence of low self-esteem was only 6.1% among college females; however, this percentage was higher (9.8%) among overweight or obese participants. The total self-esteem scores showed significant negative correlations with actual BMI and perceived BI, but not with desired BI. Meanwhile, multivariate analyses revealed significant differences in total self-esteem scores according to obesity/overweight status and perceived BI group, but not desired BI group.

Conclusion: Despite the high prevalence of overweight and obesity in Saudi Arabia, few Saudi college females have low self-esteem. In addition, body weight, BMI, perceived BI, and the BMI corresponding to the perceived BI all significantly differed between females with low self-esteem and those with normal self-esteem.

Level of evidence: Level V, cross-sectional descriptive study.

Keywords: Body image; Body mass index; College female; Obesity; Saudi Arabia; Self-esteem.

MeSH terms

  • Body Image / psychology*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Overweight / psychology
  • Saudi Arabia / epidemiology
  • Self Concept*
  • Young Adult