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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 95-99

Disturbed eating attitudes among male and female undergraduate medical students at a tertiary center, Telangana

Department of Psychiatry, Mamata Medical College, Khammam, Telangana, India

Date of Submission28-Apr-2022
Date of Decision29-Aug-2022
Date of Acceptance20-Sep-2022
Date of Web Publication16-Dec-2022

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Mohammad Sohel
Department of Psychiatry, Mamata Medical College, Khammam, Telangana
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/tjp.tjp_15_22

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Introduction: Eating attitude can simply be defined as the beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors toward food, whereas disturbed eating approach is defined as an eating behavior that does not permit the diagnosis of an eating disorder. Problematic eating attempts in both male and female populations have now become a global debate. In research, body mass and weight concerns, dissatisfaction with one's current appearance, depression anxiety, stress, and social pressures have all been found as common facilitating variables of problematic eating habits among college students.
Aims and Objectives: The aim of this study is to assess the disturbed eating attitude among male and female medical undergraduates from a tertiary medical center, Telangana.
Materials and Methods: This was a questionnaire-based, cross-sectional study. The duration of the study was from January to June 2021. Eating Attitude Test based on 26 items (EAT-26) was adapted to Google Forms and circulated among undergraduate medical students from a tertiary hospital center, Telangana.
Results: Male and female medical students were compared in terms of their disturbed eating attitudes in this study. The EAT was used to determine whether or not a person's eating habits were disturbed. The t-test was used to conduct the statistical analysis, which revealed that male students have a more disturbed eating attitude than female students. This shows that disturbed eating behaviors are no longer limited to women but are now impacting men as well. To prevent its spread, educational institutions should monitor the dangers that have occurred in their pupils and encourage them to adopt good eating habits.
Conclusion: Thus, it can be concluded from the result of the current study that male undergraduates are more prone toward disturbed eating habits than female undergraduates. The findings of this study can assist guidance counselors, general public, students, parents, and academic institutions in dealing with eating disorders, particularly in preventing it from the severity level.

Keywords: Disturbed eating attitude, male and female, medical students

How to cite this article:
Sohel M, Reddy MP, Chandra NC. Disturbed eating attitudes among male and female undergraduate medical students at a tertiary center, Telangana. Telangana J Psychiatry 2022;8:95-9

How to cite this URL:
Sohel M, Reddy MP, Chandra NC. Disturbed eating attitudes among male and female undergraduate medical students at a tertiary center, Telangana. Telangana J Psychiatry [serial online] 2022 [cited 2023 Jun 5];8:95-9. Available from: https://tjpipstsb.org/text.asp?2022/8/2/95/363967

  Introduction Top

The term eating attitude is defined as beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors toward food.[1] Disturbed eating attitude, on the other hand, is defined as an eating behavior that does not allow the diagnosis of an eating disorder.[2] Eating to fill emotional emptiness, habitual eating activities, external style of eating (you see it, you eat it), eating for pleasure, purging, and fully relying on drugs are only a few unhealthy eating styles that can be stated in regard to carrying out disturbed eating practices.[3] Disruptive eating habits among undergraduate male and female students have recently become a hot topic in the media.[4]

In a search, it was discovered that 75% of male and female student masses had unsafe eating habits.[5] Some studies have found that female undergraduates are more likely than males to indulge in extreme starvation.[6] Likewise in Jew undergraduates, a complex degree of irregular eating was found (60%).[7] Undergraduate students in Turkey achieve similar outcomes.[8] The rise of problematic eating patterns was also reported in the female intellects of Hong Kong.[9] According to a study, female undergraduate students in Japan were found to have a higher rate of unhealthy eating than males.[10] According to a study conducted in Brazil, 76% of women have hazardous eating habits.[11] In the United Kingdom, 40% of males and 75% of females were found to be following incorrect eating habits; in Canada, 60% of females and 30% of males were found to be doing so; and in Lebanon, 80% of females and 75% of males were found to be doing so.[12],[13],[14]

Further researches have revealed that body mass and weight concerns, dissatisfaction with present body, sadness, worry, stress, and social pressures have all been identified as facilitating factor of disturbed eating attitudes among students.[15] A study of undergraduates found that people who overestimate their weight are roughly twice as likely to have problematic eating habits as those who do not.[16] Female students in another search who had unhealthy eating patterns judged themselves mostly on their body weights.[17] Similarly, a study on male student learners found a strong association between their body mass index (BMI) and their eating attempts.[18] Similarly, it was discovered in a study that a large number of Philippian women who were concerned about their weight were indulged in disruptive eating practices.[19]

Similar results were seen in Chinese females (17.11%).[20] In another study, females who had a normal body weight and size viewed themselves as bulky and overweight, and were involved in dieting and purging attempts, despite having a normal body weight and size.[21] A study of students found a correlation between self-dissatisfaction and rejection as a result of disruptive eating habits.[22] A study done undergraduates identified a high rate of depression among females who were largely active in limiting or avoiding their meals, on the other hand, high rate of depression was found in males who were involved in overeating.[23] In an Arab study, 66% of students with unhealthy eating patterns and depression had lower levels of (protein, carbohydrate, zinc, and vitamins).[24] There is also a strong association between depressive warning signs, stress, and disordered eating practices among students.[24] Research on American undergraduates found a link between social stress and strange eating in order to maintain the desired body status.[25] As Western civilizations firmly believe in being fit and share an inflexible reservation to body heaviness, disrupted eating attempts continue to be practiced in these areas.[26] Disturbed eating habits have clearly emerged as a critical issue, and they appear to be dangerous in the approaching years. Early awareness of underlying factors linked to unsuitable eating efforts can aid in the development of long-term protection strategies.[27]

In a similar study, it was discovered that women's health care in New Delhi, India, suffered from a major improper eating pattern.[28] Similarly, a study of India's university population found that 14.8% of participants had a problematic eating attitude.[29] In a study conducted in Uttar Pradesh, India, adolescent women in high school were shown to have problematic eating efforts and behaviors (26.67%).[30]


The aim of this study is to assess the disturbed eating attitude among male and female medical undergraduates, a tertiary hospital center, Telangana.

  Materials and Methods Top

Study design and sample

A sample of fifty male and fifty female students from a tertiary hospital in Telangana were chosen after their consent. The duration of the study was from January to June 2021 in the department of psychiatry following the institutional ethical committee approval.

Participants who are having any acute or chronic medical illness, acute or chronic psychiatric disorders such as substance use disorder, sleep disorders, and anxiety disorder, or any history of past psychiatric disorders and who are not willing to participate in the study were excluded from the study.

Confidentiality of privacy was assured to all participants, and verbal consent was taken from each participant.

Data collection tool

Eating Attitude Test on 26 items (EAT-26) is not a diagnostic test based; it is only used to measure the signs of problematic eating behaviors. Scores based on Likert scale with (3 = always, 2 = usually, 1 = often, and 0 is for sometimes, rarely, and never), whereas there is a reverse scoring for test item number 26 as: (3 = never, 2 = rarely, 1 = sometimes, and 0 is for often, usually and always). The eating attitude test (EAT 26 item) questionnaire score ranges from (0-78). Scores at or above 20 direct a necessity of proficient support and lower than 20 put forward no proneness of bothered eating ritual.

Statistical analysis

Permission was initially sought from the relevant university authorities. After obtaining permission, participants for the study were chosen using a suitable selection method. The participants were briefed about the study; Demographic Information Form and EAT-26 scale were adapted to Google Forms and circulated among undergraduate medical students from a tertiary hospital center, Telangana, India. After the data were collected, they were entered into SPSS. As the study done on students, data collected from various medical college associated tertiary centre, Telangana, India. For statistical evaluation, descriptive statistics and the t-test were used.

  Results Top

A group of 100 students took the Eating Attitude test -26item scale in total, and results for 50 male and 50 female students were obtained with their permission.

In [Table 1], both genders were compared on the socio demographic variables of the participants. In [Table 2], both genders were compared on demographic characteristics, and differences in BMI variables were found.
Table 1: Demographic information of the participants

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Table 2: Gender differences on demographic variables of study participants

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[Table 3] illustrates a notable difference in the mean and standard scores of disturbed eating attitude among male and female medical students. This implies that male students have a more disordered eating attitude than female student.
Table 3: Independent sample t-test to depict the variance between male and female medical students for disturbed eating attitudes

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  Discussion Top

Permitting to young adults ranging from the age (18 to 25) are increasingly facing serious challenges related to eating approaches, that are impacting not only their development but also their existence. The majority of them have turned their normal eating habits into faulty ones.[31] The current investigation was also designed to look into undergraduates' disturbed eating habits.

As a result, it was objected to see the inequalities between men and women in medical school with regard to disturbed eating habits. It was assumed that female students would have more problematic eating habits than male students. The results of the present study showed overall problematic eating approach in 80% (n = 80%) students and no problematic eating approach in 20% (n = 20%) students. Further, the discrepancy among genders was set up to be statistically significant with t-test (t = 1.54, P = 0.125) [Table 3], where EAT-26 mean score for male learners was 6.29 and for females was 8.42. In another study, 66% of male undergraduates were found commonly involved in delaying their suppertimes, despite having ample information about its disadvantages, they continued following unhealthy meal skipping behavior. A high nutritive deficiency was found among students with problematic eating habits.[32] Another study found similar relationships between low education attentiveness in males and bad eating habits.[33] Minor warning symptoms of disruptive eating attitudes were detected in 11% of male undergraduates in a study in Washington, DC.[34] Similarly, one investigation indicated that 80% of male undergraduates desired to have an ideal figure and had signs of unhealthy eating habits.[35] In a survey, it was discovered that male students with unhealthy eating habits had a significant decline in their body weight (BMI >11.5) 60, which itself is a negative practice. Similar results were observed in 0.4% of university males in Himalaya, North India.[36] In a study conducted in Singapore between 2002 and 2010, 45.1% of males with faulty eating habits cited being subjected to social pressure and mocking by colleagues and friends as a causal factor of their bad eating habits.[37] Similarly, in another study, 279 male undergraduates reported media exposure and societal pressure as a reason of their disturbed eating habits.[38]

As a result, the findings of recent research have given the awareness that disturbed eating habits are no longer limited to women; they are increasingly affecting men as well. More research is needed to fully comprehend the elements that influence male unusual eating habits.

  Conclusion Top

Thus, it can be concluded from the result of the current study that male undergraduates are more prone toward disturbed eating habits than female undergraduates. The findings of this study can assist guidance counselors, general public, students, parents, and academic institutions in dealing with eating disorders, particularly in preventing it from the severity level. Furthermore, academic institutions can play an important role in encouraging healthy activity among their students. Media campaigns emphasizing the importance of healthy eating habits and its advantages can play a beneficial role. Parents' education initiatives to promote healthy eating habits in their children can be quite beneficial. Workshops and seminars led by mental health professionals may aid in the prevention of disturbed eating habits. Similarly, identifying unsafe aspects is critical for both primary and advanced protection. Further prevention methods, measures, tactics, and policies for reducing the severity levels of unhealthy eating practices in the student population should be implemented and targeted on the features that are linked to the development of disturbed approaches of eating. However, because the results of this search cannot be generalized, more research in this area is still needed, and it may be crucial in uncovering othver significant components and figures. Investigations to understand the effects of cultural diversity on eating approaches are essentially desirable.


The study's capacity to make broad statements may have been constrained because the search result was based on only one hundred people. In addition, future research could focus on this feature in other mental and emotional domains. The EAT-26 is a screening tool for identifying problematic eating habits; adequate diagnostic techniques must be used to gain a better knowledge of disturbed eating in the general population.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

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  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]


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