Eating attitudes and barriers to healthy eating and physical activity among a sample of university students in Egypt

Document Type : Original Article


Department of Community, Environmental and Occupational Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt


BACKGROUND: More students are concerned about their body shape and have a desire to have a lower BMI. As a consequence, many of them have disordered eating attitudes (DEAs) and engage themselves in unhealthy weight control behaviors.
AIM: To measure the frequency of DEAs among Ain Shams University students and to identify the barriers to healthy eating and physical activity among them.
Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional study was done on a sample of 445 students in Ain Shams University from different faculties using a self-reported questionnaire. The weight and height were measured and the BMI was calculated. The eating attitudes were measured using the Eating Attitudes Test-26 questionnaire.
RESULTS: The students’ age ranged between 17 and 26 years with a mean of 20.3±1.5 years, 40.7% of them were men and 59.3% women. The majority of students (50.8%) had normal BMI, and about 39% were overweight and obese. The frequency of DEAs was 73.3%. There was no significant relation between the presence of DEAs and personal data of students such as age, sex, faculty, and BMI. Lack of time was the most highlighted barrier to both physical activity and healthy eating.
CONCLUSION: There was a high prevalence rate of obesity and DEA that necessitates a lot of efforts to help the youth control their body weights and correct unhealthy behaviors by overcoming barriers against healthy behaviors.