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The factors making first-year university students vulnerable to pathological eating attitudes

Mançe, Öykü
The purpose of the present study was to find out variables that make first year university students vulnerable to eating disorders. Pathological eating attitudes’ association with height and weight, family meal patterns, perceived social support, family values and socio-demographic variables were assessed. 299 first year university students from the Department of Basic English at Middle East Technical University participated in the study. Five assessment devices- Demographic data form, the Eating Attitude Test (EAT 40), Family Eating Attitude and Behavior Subscales, the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support, and the Traditional Family Values Questionnaire were administered. ANOVAs were conducted to assess differences on eating attitudes between participants in terms of gender, with whom they lived, perceived family type, socio economic status, body mass index and weight satisfaction. Stepwise multiple regressions were conducted to appraise to what extent perceived social support, family meal patterns, traditional family values and demographic variables predicted eating attitudes of first year students. The participants who perceived their family as traditional reported more pathological eating attitudes in dieting, preoccupation with food, social pressure on weight factor. Regression analyses for female participants revealed that dieting, parents occupation, body mass index (current / desired) perceived social support- family, relationships with family and kin, and perceived family income were associated with pathological eating attitudes. Regression analyses for males revealed that dieting, father occupation, desired body mass index and relationships with family and kin were associated with pathological eating attitudes. These findings were discussed with reference to relevant literature. Future research topics were suggested and therapeutic implications of the study were discussed.