|dc.description.abstract||A total sample of 1,105 students from the universities of Natal, Witwatersrand and the North
participated in this study. The Eating Attitude Test (EAT) and the Bulimic Investigatory Test,
Edinburgh (BITE) were administered to three female and three male student samples. Subjects
also provided biographic, demographic and weight-related information.
The majority of subjects fell within the average weight range of the Body Mass Index (BMI), with
the percentage of underweight Indian subjects being higher than the corresponding
percentages of the black and white student groups. The majority of males in each race group
have accurate weight perceptions. In contrast, the minority of females (fewer than a third) of
Indian and white females and under half of black females have accurate weight perceptions.
However, all overweight white females assessed themselves as such and 89% of overweight
black women assessed themselves as overweight. In terms of exaggerated weight perceptions,
more white and Indian females (72% and 70% respectively) consider themselves as overweight
or very overweight when they were actually of average weight, than black females (47%).
Females in each race group scored consistently higher on all scales assessed than their male
counterparts. White females exhibited the most disturbed eating behaviours and attitudes in
terms of the categorised percentage scores obtained on all scales of the BITE and EAT. No
Indian males obtained scores in the pathological range. On the EAT scale, 19% of white
females, 17% of black females and 9% of Indian females, 7% of black males and 1% of white
males obtained scores which were categorised as pathological. The more stringent criteria of
the BITE showed a lower percentage of all subjects in the pathological range, albeit still
retaining the gender discrepancy. Thirteen percent of white female students, 8% of black
females, 3% of Indian females, 2% of white males and 1% of black males obtained a
pathological score on the BITE scale.
The Indian female and male sample exhibited the healthiest eating behaviours and attitudes
relative to the other two racial groups examined.
In terms of mean scores a general trend emerged in which black males obtained higher mean
scores than white and Indian males, and black females obtained mean scores (which were
overall) similar in magnitude to those of white females.
The majority of black females who obtained pathological scores were urban raised and were
from the upper socio-economic stratum. The majority of white females who obtained
pathological scores were from urban backgrounds, had exaggerated weight perceptions and
expressed a desire to lose at least 10 kilograms of weight.||en