oa South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition - Eating behaviour, eating attitude and body mass index of dietetic students versus non-dietetic majors : a South African perspective : original research

Volume 27, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1607-0658
  • E-ISSN: 2221-1268



The objective was to determine and compare the eating behaviour, eating attitude and body mass index (BMI) of dietetic students to those of non-dietetic majors.

This was a cross-sectional, descriptive survey.
The setting was the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
The subjects were a random sample of 83 first-year non-dietetic major students; 24 first-, 20 third- and 18 fourth-year dietetic students.
Outcome measures were the results of the Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire (TFEQ), Eating Attitudes Test 26 (EAT 26) and BMI.
According to the TFEQ, there was a high prevalence of eating restraint, followed by disinhibition of eating and hunger scores, in first-year dietetic students. Measures of these subscales were similar for non-dietetic majors. A significant difference between the two groups was observed with regard to eating restraint (p-value < 0.001). The mean scores for the EAT 26 from both of the first-year groups were not indicative of an eating disorder. A higher prevalence of disordered eating was observed in first-year dietetic students (p-value < 0.059). Lower levels of eating restraint and disinhibition were documented in dietetic students in subsequent years of study. The mean BMI of all of the participant categories was within the normal range.
There was a higher prevalence of eating disorders in first-year dietetic students than in students taking non-dietetic majors. Eating disorders in these students highlight the need for similar studies to be conducted at other local universities offering dietetics as a subject.

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