Home | About IPJ | Editorial board | Ahead of print | Current Issue | Archives | Instructions | Contact us |   Login 
Industrial Psychiatry Journal
Search Articles   
Advanced search   

Year : 2012  |  Volume : 21  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 168-172  Table of Contents     

Body image satisfaction among female college students

1 Department of Community Medicine, Pt. B.D. Sharma, PGIMS, Rohtak, Haryana, India
2 Department of TB and Respiratory Medicine, Pt. B.D. Sharma, PGIMS, Rohtak, Haryana, India

Date of Web Publication9-Oct-2013

Correspondence Address:
Sandeep Sachdeva
Department of Community Medicine, Pt. B.D. Sharma, PGIMS, Rohtak - 124 001, Haryana
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-6748.119653

Rights and Permissions

Objective: To determine body image satisfaction among newly entrant women students in a professional institution. Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional study using body image satisfaction described in words was undertaken, which also explored relationship with body mass index (BMI) and other selected co-variables such as socio-demographic details, overall satisfaction in life, and particularly in academic/professional life, current health status using 5-item based Likert scale. Height, weight, hip and waist circumference measurement was carried out using standard protocol. Data collection was carried through personal interview using pre-designed, pre-tested semi-structured interview schedule by female investigators during August-September 2010 and analysis carried out by computing percentages and Chi-square test. Results: Out of 96 study samples, 16.66%, 51.04%, and 32.29% girl students perceived their body image as fair, good and excellent, respectively while overall 13.54% were dissatisfied with their body image. The body image satisfaction had significant relationship with image perception ( P<0.001), current general health status ( P<0.001) and self weight assessment ( P<0.001). Mother's education had a statistically significant ( P=0.004) but negative relationship with outcome variable. Students with low weight (BMI <18.5 kg/m2) had a significantly higher (85.71%) prevalence of body image satisfaction while overweight students (BMI≤23 kg/m2) had a significantly higher (54.54%) prevalence of dissatisfaction ( P<0.001). Discussion: High body image satisfaction is reported in this study and was found to be significantly related to anthropometric measurements. On an encouraging note, this level needs to be preserved for overall mental and healthy development of students. Proactive preventive measures could be initiated on personality development, acceptance of self and individual differences while maintaining optimum weight and active life style.

Keywords: Aneamia, body image, body mass index, education, nutrition, obesity, perception, physical activity, satisfaction, students, women

How to cite this article:
Goswami S, Sachdeva S, Sachdeva R. Body image satisfaction among female college students. Ind Psychiatry J 2012;21:168-72

How to cite this URL:
Goswami S, Sachdeva S, Sachdeva R. Body image satisfaction among female college students. Ind Psychiatry J [serial online] 2012 [cited 2022 Oct 4];21:168-72. Available from: https://www.industrialpsychiatry.org/text.asp?2012/21/2/168/119653

The concept of body image as a psychological phenomenon was initially established in 1935, by the Austrian psychiatrist Paul Ferdinand Schilder (1886-1940), who said that the mental images that individuals have of their own bodies explain the way their bodies are introduced to them. According to the psychiatrist, one's mental body image is established by senses, ideas and feelings that, most of the time, are unconscious. This representation is built and rebuilt throughout life. [1],[2] Body image is a multidimensional dynamic construct that involves internal biological and psychological factors as well as external cultural and social determinants. [3],[4]

Individuals who perceive their bodies negatively with regard to culturally valued features may have low self-esteem, low satisfaction in life and feeling of inferiority and pose themselves at higher risk for depression, anxiety or eating disorders. At the highest level of dissatisfaction, this may result in significant impairment of social, educational and/or occupational functioning. Currently, beautiful is considered good and thinness is synonymous with beauty, which makes it valued by society while its opposite, obesity, is strongly rejected. Although the ideals of female beauty vary as a function of esthetical standards adopted at each time, studies show that women have tried to change their bodies to follow these standards. [5]

Obesity has been identified as one of the rising epidemic across globe with consequential rise of non-communicable diseases including disproportionate health care cost on individuals, family and society. According to latest WHO estimates, 14.4% (male) and 15% (female) adult aged 15 years and above are obese in the world. [6] More than half a billion adults (205 million men and 297 million women over the age of 20 years) world-wide were obese in 2008. The prevalence of overweight and obesity was highest in WHO regions of America and lowest in South-East Asia. [7]

Overweight children, adolescents, and adults generally have lower body esteem than do their normal-weight peers and this is especially true for females. [8] It is generally believed that body image distortion and related consequences is a western societal phenomenon however, it has made its presence felt into diverse culture including developing countries also. With the change in epidemiological shift, India is witnessing simultaneous manifestation of double burden of communicable and non-communicable disease with a challenging and daunting task for stakeholders to identify issues, resolve conflict, mobilize resources and overcome situation with innovative solution and strategies. Considering this background, a cross-sectional descriptive study sought to determine body image satisfaction, a hitherto underexplored arena in our setting. Using body satisfaction described in words, this study also investigated relationship with body mass index (BMI) and other selected co-variables.

   Materials and Methods Top

The study variables included body image satisfaction, overall satisfaction in life, and particularly in academic/professional life, current health status and body image perception through self rating on 5-items based Likert scale (poor, fair, good, very good and excellent). Other variables included were related to native place, type of family, social caste, marks obtained in qualifying exam (12 th class), education of mother and father, monthly family income, siblings and self assessment of weight into lean (underweight), normal, overweight/obese category. Attempt at changing weight was inquired, if undertaken during last one-year and whether meals were skipped as a method of dieting during last three months. Physical activity considered in present study was: 30 min of intense physical/sports activity that lead to large increase in breathing/heart rate and undertaken for atleast 4-5 days/week (regularly); 1-3 days/week (sometimes) and none.

Height, weight, hip and waist circumference measurements were carried out for each candidate using standard protocol under comfortable conditions after adequate rest in order to compute BMI (kg/m 2 ) and waist/hip ratio, as applicable to Asian citizens. [9] Body weight of the candidate wearing light clothing and without footwear was measured to the nearest 0.5 kg using a weighing scale; height was assessed to the nearest 0.1 cm by using a non elastic measuring tape with the participant standing erect against a wall, without shoes and the head looking straight. Midpoint of inferior margin of last rib and the crest of ilium was measured for waist circumference. The hip circumference was measured around the maximum circumference of the hips. Waist-hip ratio is related to the metabolic complications of obesity and criteria recommended by WHO, of absence of risk (<0.8) and risk of abdominal obesity (≤0.8), were followed. Hemoglobin status to determine presence/absence of anemia (<12 g/dl), as a routine health procedure investigated at the time of admission to institution, was also collected and recorded.

Considering feasibility, all available newly entrant female students undergoing professional courses and residing in women's hostel were contacted. It was proposed for complete enumeration, however, out of a total of 101 resident students, 2 declined to participate, 3 could not be contacted despite of two repeat visits and 96 (95.04%) consented to participate in this study. Data collection was carried through personal interview by the female investigator using pre-designed, pre-tested semi-structured interview schedules during August-September 2010 after taking informed consent of participants ensuring complete confidentiality in a non-judgmental manner and at their convenient time. Data management was done using MS Excel and analysis was carried out by computing descriptive and inferential statistic (Chi-square test) using software statistical package (SPSS ver. 16). For the purpose of analysis, P value of less than 0.05 was considered significant and some items of scale was grouped into a single entity such as poor and fair, into fair, and very good and excellent, into excellent.

   Results Top

Out of 96 students who participated, 20.83%, 35.41%, and 43.75% were associated with BDS, MBBS and nursing streams, respectively; 67.70% belonged to rural background; 71.87% lived in joint family system; 51.04%, 37.5%, and 11.45% secured <80%, between 80-90% and >90% marks in 12 th class. Mothers education of majority (54.16%) of participants was up to 12 th class, while majority (63.54%) of candidates fathers were atleast graduate; 41.66% had monthly family income between Rs. 20,000-40,000 followed by 38.54% with >Rs. 40,000; 40.62% had sibling as brother only, 5.20% as sister only while 54.16% had both, [Table 1].
Table 1: Socio‑demographic profile of study participants

Click here to view

Nearly, 16 (16.66%), 49 (51.04%), and 31 (32.29%) female students perceived their body image as fair, good and excellent, respectively while overall 13 (13.54%) were dissatisfied with their body image. Further analysis of body image satisfaction was carried out with selected variables and association was found to be statistically non-significant with professional stream ( P=0.058), native place ( P=0.44), type of family ( P=0.66), social caste ( P=0.34), marks obtained in 12 th class ( P=0.32), education of father ( P=0.28), monthly family income ( P=0.10), gender of sibling ( P=0.70), physical activity ( P=0.41), global satisfaction in life ( P=0.30) and satisfaction in academic life ( P=0.76). Nearly 34.37% participants attempted at changing (increase/decrease) their weight ( P=0.73) during last one-year while 9.37% skipped at least one meal during last three months as a strategy for weight reduction ( P=0.82).

The body image satisfaction had significant relationship with image perception ( P<0.001), current general health status ( P<0.001) and self weight assessment ( P<0.001). Mother's education had an inverse bearing on the outcome variable ( P=0.004). According to BMI nearly 11.54% girls were found to be overweight (or obese) while 29.16% were under-nourished; 26.04% had waist/hip ratio of more than 0.8 and was significantly related to body image. Nearly, 75% girls were found to be anemic but this was not statistically related to body image in the sampled population ( P=0.86), [Table 2].
Table 2: Body image satisfaction according to selected variables

Click here to view

   Discussion Top

A study was undertaken to determine body image satisfaction and perception among newly entrant girl students (17-22 years) of a professional institution. In the present study nearly 83.33% rated their perceived body image from good to excellent while overall 13.54% were dissatisfied with their image. Our study reports a relatively lower proportion of body image dissatisfaction among college going girl students in comparison with other selected studies done at international platform. The study methodology may differ but on review of literature, level of body image dissatisfaction ranged from 33% (China), 34.9% (Australia), 45% (Greece), 47.3% (Brazil), 50% (Taiwan), 56% (Norway), 29.8% and 56.7% (Turkey), 69% (European Union), and 73.3% (USA). [10],[11],[12],[13],[14],[15],[16],[17],[18] Probably culture, upbringing, professional stature and ethnicity may be some predominant factors behind high body image satisfaction, as another study carried out in UK also reported that Asian women were less likely to describe themselves as too fat, were less dissatisfied with their body size, and less likely to want to lose weight in comparison with white women. [19] The other possibility of low dissatisfaction could be that the first year students have just emerged from the protected environment of their family and may throw surprising results if study is repeated after few years when they are exposed to more competitive situations later in life. On the contrary, a study conducted amongst all resident medical female students in south India reported image dissatisfaction to the tune of 33.3%. [20]

Similar results were observed from another study conducted in Karnataka, with 29.1% underweight girl students but only 3.2% being overweight while more than 65% perceived themselves to be either slim or thin. [21] A study carried amongst nursing students (mean BMI: 20.14) in West Bengal also revealed double burden of nutritional disorder with prevalence of faulty weight perception of 38.6% and was found to be weighted towards feeling higher weight. [22] In study conducted in Delhi, half of overweight/obese youth had low body satisfaction, while one-quarter of the non-overweight youth felt the same; among overweight/obese youth, girls were more likely than boys to perceive themselves as overweight ( P=0.047) and to have low body satisfaction ( P=0.052). [23] In Lucknow, 73.4% adolescent girls were satisfied with their body image, while 26.6% were dissatisfied. [24]

In the present study (mean BMI: 20.13), nearly 15.62% perceived themselves to be overweight/obese while actually 11.54% could be grouped into this category (BMI >23 kg/m 2 ). Similarly, 8.33% perceived themselves to be underweight/lean but infact 29.16% were found to be so (BMI <18.5 kg//m 2 ). Students with low weight (BMI <18.5 kg/m2) had a significantly higher (85.71%) prevalence of body image satisfaction while overweight students (BMI ≤23 kg/m2) had a significantly higher (54.54%) prevalence of dissatisfaction ( P<0.001). Body image satisfaction had significant relationship with BMI and waist-hip ratio in the present and was similar to as reported in other studies. Further, higher proportion of dissatisfaction was found amongst subjects with higher level of mother's education probably due to increased aspiration and expectations in life.

The burden of under-nutrition including anemia is widespread amongst Indians especially the vulnerable groups. According to community based National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3 survey, nearly 36% of women are undernourished (BMI <18.5) while the percentage of married women age 15-49 who are overweight or obese, increased from 11% in NFHS-2 (1998-99) to 15% in NFHS-3 (2005-06) and almost half of the girls in age 15-19 were undernourished. District Level Household Survey (DLHS) and Indian Council of Medical Research surveys have repeatedly shown that over 70% of pre-school children, adolescent girls and pregnant mothers are anemic. [25] Akin to this observation, our study also reflected similar situation with 75% of girls being anemic who need adequate and priority management. Authors acknowledges some of the limitations of our study such as small sample size; possibility of under-reporting; non-use of scales like visual analog, figure rating or contour drawing comparison scale etc. Similar studies may be undertaken at other centers in India to determine frequency/variations/trends overtime with inclusion of male member of society also.

To conclude, high body image satisfaction is reported in this study and found to be significantly related to anthropometric measurements. On an encouraging note, this level needs to be preserved for overall mental and healthy development of students. Proactive preventive measures could be initiated in institutions on personality development, acceptance of self and individual differences while maintaining optimum weight and active life style.

   Acknowledgment Top

Vice-Chancellor and Director, University of Health Sciences, Rohtak, India.

   References Top

1.Schilder P. A imagem do corpo: as energias construtivas da psique. São Paulo. Editora Martins Fontes; 1999 as cited in Costa Lda C, de Vasconcelos Fde A. Influence of socioeconomic, behavioral and nutritional factors on dissatisfaction with body image among female university students in Florianopolis, SC. Rev Bras Epidemiol 2010;13:1-12.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Slade PD. What is body image? Behav Res Ther 1994;32:497-502.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Body images: Development, deviance, and change. In: Cash T, Pruzinsky T, editors. New York: Guilford Press; 1990. p. 20-4.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Geller J, Srikameswaran S, Cockell SJ, Zaitsoff SL. Assessment of shape- and weight-based self-esteem in adolescents. Int J Eat Disord 2000;28:339-45.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Heinberg LJ. Theories of body image disturbance: Perceptual, development, and sociocultural factors. In: Thompson JK. Body Image, Eating Disorders and Obesity: An Integrative Guide for Assessment and Treatment. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association; 1996. p. 27-47.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.World health statistics: 2010. Geneva: Word Health Organization; 2010.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Global status report on non-communicable diseases: 2010. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2011.  Back to cited text no. 7
8.Mendelson BK, White DR, Mendelson MJ. Self-esteem and body esteem: Effects of gender, age, and weight. J Appl Dev Psychol 1996;17:321-46.  Back to cited text no. 8
9.WHO Expert Consultation. Appropriate body-mass index for Asian populations and its implications for policy and intervention strategies. Lancet 2004;363:157-63.  Back to cited text no. 9
10.Luo Y, Parish WL, Laumann EO. A population-based study of body image concerns among urban Chinese adults. Body Image 2005;2:333-45.  Back to cited text no. 10
11.Dea JA. Studies of obesity, body image, and related health issues among Australian adolescents: How can programs in school interact with and complement each other? J Stud Wellbeing 2010;4:3-16.  Back to cited text no. 11
12.Hassapidou M, Papadopoulou SK. Food choice criteria in adolescents according to body image. Songklanakarin J Sci Technol 2006;28:165-9.  Back to cited text no. 12
13.Wong Y, Huang YC. Obesity concerns, weight satisfaction and characteristics of female dieters: A study on female Taiwanese college students. J Am Coll Nutr 1999;18:194-200.  Back to cited text no. 13
14.Meland E, Haugland S, Breidablik HJ. Body image and perceived health in adolescence. Health Educ Res 2007;22:342-50.  Back to cited text no. 14
15.Akdevelioglu Y, Gumus H. Eating disorders and body image perception among university students. Pakistan J Nutrition 2010;9:1187-91.  Back to cited text no. 15
16.Ozmen D, Ozmen E, Ergin D, Cetinkaya AC, Sen N, Dundar PE, et al. The association of self-esteem, depression and body satisfaction with obesity among Turkish adolescents. BMC Public Health 2007;7:80.  Back to cited text no. 16
17.McElhone S, Kearney JM, Giachetti I, Zunft HJ, Martínez JA. Body image perception in relation to recent weight changes and strategies for weight loss in a nationally representative sample in the European Union. Public Health Nutr. 1999;2:143-51.  Back to cited text no. 17
18.Kelly AM, Wall M, Eisenberg ME, Story M, Sztainer DN. Adolescent girls with high body satisfaction: Who are they and what can they teach us? J Adolescent Health 2005;37:391-6.  Back to cited text no. 18
19.Wardle J, Bindra R, Fairclough B, Westcombe A. Culture and body image: Body perception and weight concern in young Asian and Caucasian British women. J Community Appl Soc Psychol 1993;3:173-81.  Back to cited text no. 19
20.D Priya, KS Prassana, S Sucharitha, Nafisa C Vaz. Body image perception and attempts to change weight among female medical students at Mangalore. Indian J Com Med, 2010;35:316-20.  Back to cited text no. 20
21.Latha KS, Hegde S, Bhat SM, Sharma PS, Rai P. Body image, self-esteem and depression in female adolescent college students. J Indian Assoc Child Adolesc Ment Health 2006;2:78-84.  Back to cited text no. 21
22.Sinhababu A. A study on weight status and weight perception of GNM students of a nursing training centre, Bankura, West Bengal. J Indian Med Assoc 2007;105:85-7.  Back to cited text no. 22
23.Stigler MH, Arora M, Dhavan P, Shrivastav R, Reddy KS, Perry CL. Weight-related concerns and weight-control behaviors among overweight adolescents in Delhi, India: A cross-sectional study. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 2011;8:9.  Back to cited text no. 23
24.Dixit S, Agarwal GG, Singh JV, Kant S, Singh N. A study on consciousness of adolescent girls about their body image. Indian J Community Med 2011;36:197-02.  Back to cited text no. 24
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
25.Kalaivani K. Prevalence and consequences of anaemia in pregnancy. Indian J Med Res 2009;130:627-33.  Back to cited text no. 25
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  


  [Table 1], [Table 2]

This article has been cited by
1 Body Image Dissatisfaction, Depression, and Health-Related Quality of Life Amongst Indian Obese School Children: A Cross-Sectional Study
Pitchai Pothiraj, Chopade Shamal, Vijaya Krishnan
Journal of Indian Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health. 2022; 18(1): 63
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
2 Knowledge, Attitude and Practice of Eating Disorders among Children and Adolescents Engaged in Sports: A Cross-sectional Study
Sakshi Bhardwaj, Mridula Goswami, Gyanendra Kumar, Aditi Garg
International Journal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry. 2022; 15(2): 135
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
3 Prevalence and factors associated with anxiety among university students of health sciences in Brazil: findings and implications
Júlia Vasconcelos de Sá Alves, Waléria de Paula, Patrícia Ribeiro Rezende Netto, Brian Godman, Renata Cristina Rezende Macedo do Nascimento, Wendel Coura-Vital
Jornal Brasileiro de Psiquiatria. 2021; 70(2): 99
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
4 Romantic relationship satisfaction in emerging adulthood
Turkish Journal of Education. 2021; : 319
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
5 Görünüme Yönelik Sosyokültürel Inançlarin Benlik Saygisi, Psikolojik Saglamlik ve Fiziksel Aktivite Düzeyini Belirleyici Rolü
Akdeniz Spor Bilimleri Dergisi. 2020;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
Journal of Analytic Divinity. 2019; 3(2): 67
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
7 The Impact of Weight Perception on the Health Behaviors of College Students
Jessica Osborn,Mildred Naquin,Wynn Gillan,Ashley Bowers
American Journal of Health Education. 2016; 47(5): 287
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
8 A Cross-cultural study of Body Image Perceptions between Korean and British University Students
Bu-Yong Kim,Seunghee Lee
Fashion business. 2015; 19(6): 14
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
9 Urbanisation and geographic variation of overweight and obesity in India: a cross-sectional analysis of the Indian Demographic Health Survey 2005–2006
Saad T. Siddiqui,Ngianga-Bakwin Kandala,Saverio Stranges
International Journal of Public Health. 2015; 60(6): 717
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
10 Are Contingencies of Self-Worth Associated with Body Image in Indian and British Women?
Meenakshi Menon,Preeti Pant
Psychological Studies. 2015;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
11 The prevalence and correlates of depression, anxiety, and stress in a sample of college students
R. Beiter,R. Nash,M. McCrady,D. Rhoades,M. Linscomb,M. Clarahan,S. Sammut
Journal of Affective Disorders. 2015; 173: 90
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


    Access Statistics
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

  In this article
    Materials and Me...
    Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded395    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 11    

Recommend this journal