Objectives: To study the body dissatisfaction of Chinese undergraduates and its implications for eating disorders in Hong Kong.
Method: A large sample of 1,581 subjects completed a "Body Dissatisfaction Questionnaire" (BDQ) which included 25 items about various body parts and questions on body indices, body shape dissatisfaction, and dieting.
Results: Whereas male subjects wanted to be taller and stronger in their upper body, the majority of female subjects felt fat in their lower body and were cognitively inclined to weigh less even though they were not obese. They desired a slimming of the stomach, thighs, waist and hip, but not the breasts. Body dissatisfaction was substantially intensified in females who reported a history of dieting in the previous year. Factor analysis of the BDQ affirmed the gender specificity and multidimensionality of body dissatisfaction.
Discussion: The typically "Western" pattern of body dissatisfaction has overshadowed the traditional Chinese notions of female beauty based on the face and other nontruncal features. In the context of a rapidly urbanizing Chinese society, this will predispose more females to weight control behavior and eating disorders.