Prevalence and predictors of eating disorders: A cross-sectional survey of medical students at King Abdul-Aziz University, Jeddah
Objectives: Eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are psychiatric and public health issues that are prevalent among medical students, especially females. This study’s objective was to examine the epidemiology of eating disorders, specifically their associated risk factors, such as body mass index (BMI), gender, academic year of studies, and socio-demographic factors among medical students at King Abdul-Aziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey of 417 medical students (138 males; 279 females) was conducted at King Abdul-Aziz University between January and April 2021. Participants were selected using a multi-stage random sampling method. The survey, which consisted of questions from the 26-item Eating Attitudes Test was distributed online using WhatsApp. Binomial logistic regression (univariate and multivariate) was used to identify the influencing factors on eating attitudes.
Results: Among the 417 medical students, the prevalence of eating disorders was 32.1%. Participants’ average age was 21.65±1.51 years. The BMIs of 54.4% of the students were within normal limits; 14.6 % of them were underweight, 19.2 % were overweight, and 11.8 % were obese. Female medical students (P=0.038, OR=1.62) and pre-clinical stage (P=0.007, OR=1.77) were significantly more likely to be associated with high risk on the EAT-26. A significant association was also found between overweight and obesity in the high-risk students (P=0.016, OR=1.69), but no significant association was found between ED risk and age (OR=0.65). The multivariate logistic regression models showed the most common predictors of EDs among the medical students were female gender and being overweight or obese (OR=2.02, OR=2.10, and OR=2.69, respectively).
Conclusion: Eating disorders are common among medical students. The strongest predictors of eating disorders among the study group were female gender in the pre-clinical stage and being overweight or obese. This study highlights an underrated health problem among Saudi medical students. The implementation of eating disorders preventive program during medical schools that target females may be helpful. Further research is needed to address the best preventive and treatment strategies for EDs among medical students.
How to cite this:
Ghamri RA, Alahmari AM, Alghamdi LS, Alamoudi SF, Barashid MM. Prevalence and predictors of eating disorders:A cross-sectional survey of medical students at King Abdul-Aziz University, Jeddah. Pak J Med Sci. 2022;38(6):1633-1638. doi: https://doi.org/10.12669/pjms.38.6.5033
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