Background: Body image dissatisfaction has been associated with poor nutritional status and unhealthy weight control strategies. This study determined the prevalence and relationships between body image perceptions, nutritional status and weight control strategies among university undergraduate students in Lagos, Nigeria.
Methods: A descriptive cross-sectional study employed multi-stage sampling technique to select 865 undergraduates in Lagos. A pretested self-administered questionnaire was used to assess the variables. Body Mass Index (BMI) was calculated to determine nutritional status. SPSS (version 23) was used for analysis and the association between variables was determined using Chi-square. The level of significance was set at P ≤ 0.05.
Results: The prevalence of body image dissatisfaction was high (63.5%) but not associated with gender. The majority (65.1%) had normal BMI, 10.6% were overweight and 7.2% were obese. Majority of the respondents (93.3%) engaged in weight control strategies with dietary control being the most employed strategy. The most commonly employed unhealthy practice is strict dieting (37.7%) followed by using herbal mixtures (37.5%). Body image dissatisfaction was significantly associated with obesity (P=0.001) but not with weight control practices.
Conclusion: Prevalence of body image dissatisfaction, overweight and obesity, and unhealthy weight control strategies were high. Body image dissatisfaction was associated with obesity but not associated with weight control strategies. Health education on body image and appropriate weight control strategies are necessary among the undergraduates.