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Risk of disordered eating attitudes and its relation to mental health among university students in ASEAN

  • Supa Pengpid
  • Karl Peltzer
Original Article

Abstract

Purpose

Since there is a lack of information on eating disorders attitudes in Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the aim of this study was to explore the prevalence of eating disorder attitude and its relation to mental distress among university student populations in Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

Methods

A cross-sectional questionnaire survey and anthropometric measurement were conducted with undergraduate university students that were randomly recruited. The Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26) was utilized to determine the prevalence of disordered eating attitudes. The sample included 3148 university students, with a mean age of 20.5 years, SD = 1.6.

Results

Using the EAT-26, 11.5% of the students across all countries were classified as being at risk for an eating disorder, ranging from below 10% in Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam to 13.8% in Malaysia and 20.6% in Myanmar. In multivariable logistic regression analysis, sociodemographic factors (wealthier subjective economic status, and living in a lower middle income country), underweight and overweight body weight perception, psychological factors (depression symptoms and pathological internet use), and being obese were associated with eating disorder risk.

Conclusions

Relatively high rates of eating disorder risk were found. This result calls for increased awareness, understanding of eating disorders and related risk factors and interventions in university students in ASEAN.

Level of evidence

Level V, descriptive cross-sectional survey.

Keywords

Eating disorder risk EAT-26 Body weight perception Mental health University students ASEAN 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The following colleagues participated in this ASEAN student health survey and contributed to data collection (locations of universities in parentheses): Indonesia: Erna Rochmawati (Yogyakarta), Malaysia: Wah Yun Low (Kuala Lumpur); Myanmar: Hla Hla Win (Yangon); Thailand: Niruwan Turnbull (Maha Sarakham); Vietnam: Thang Nguyen Huu (Hanoi).

Funding

Partial funding for this study was provided by the South African Department of Higher Education.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflict of interests to disclose.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ASEAN Institute for Health DevelopmentMahidol UniversityNakhonpathomThailand
  2. 2.Department of Research and InnovationUniversity of LimpopoSovengaSouth Africa
  3. 3.Department for Management of Science and Technology DevelopmentTon Duc Thang UniversityHo Chi Minh CityVietnam
  4. 4.Faculty of PharmacyTon Duc Thang UniversityHo Chi Minh CityVietnam

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