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Introduction: Understanding and assessing behavioral risk factors, particularly among college populations, is challenging for health educators. Similarly, issues affecting mental health remain unclear in terms of how body image evolves year to year in college students. A better understanding of how students perceive their bodies and to what extent it affects behavior is needed. Purpose: This study assessed psychobehavioral aspects of body image perception and discrepancy in college students to better identify risk behaviors. Methods: Two surveys (Body Image Questionnaire and Behavior Assessment Questionnaire) were administered to college freshmen and seniors (N = 170).

Results: Students engaged in unhealthy body management strategies an average of 1-2 times per week. There was a strong correlation between discrepant body image and risky behavioral management strategies. Females had higher body image discrepancy scores (although non-significant), and educational level was not a significant factor in risk behaviors. Finally, desire for ideal muscle tone and definition, weight, physical coordination, and facial features were the strongest predictors of risk behaviors. Discussion: Body image dissatisfaction, risky management strategies, and risk behaviors did not differ between freshman and seniors. There is a continuing need for addressing body image perceptions and related negative behaviors in college students regardless of education level and age.

Original Citation

Leone, J.E., Partridge, J.A. & Maurer-Starks, S. (2011). Psychobehavioral Attributes of Body Image in College Freshmen and Seniors: Implications for Long-term Health. The Health Educator. 43(1), 13-20.