Eating Disorders and Personality Profile of Female Secondary Schools Students in Benin Metropolis, Nigeria

Article excerpt

This paper investigated the prevalence of eating disorders of female students and the consequence on their personality profile. Three research questions were raised and one hypothesis formulated. One thousand seven hundred and sixteen (1716) students whose ages ranged from 13-17 years were drawn from secondary school female students in Benin metropolis, using the multistage sampling technique. Female adolescent students eating disorder questionnaire (FASEDQ) was used to generate data. It is made of two parts. Part one comprised of ten main questions, grouped into five sub-areas and part two comprised fifteen questions grouped into five sub-areas.

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The questionnaire was subjected to a split-half reliability test using person product moment coefficient of correlation (PPMCC) which yielded a psychometric value of an (r) of 0.86. The findings revealed that the students used unsafe weight losing methods to remain slim. The motivational factors were the electronics media and the friends they keep. The chi-sq ([x.sup.2]) value obtained were not significant at P < 0.05, [x.sup.2] = 9.488, df = 4. This led to the conclusion that the use of unsafe weight losing method would significantly result in change in personality profiles. The personality changes include feelings of inadequacy; lower self esteem, moodiness, fear and anxiety; and compensatory acts of obessional responses. The paper recommended the use of nutrition education programmes in schools to help the students develop healthy eating behaviours.

Introduction

In the traditional Benin Community, the eating order is heavy breakfast, sometimes light lunch and heavy dinner. This order sometimes disregards the nutritional values of eating. Emphasis is on eating of carbohydrates. Worse still is the practice, which deny children the right of eating enough meat. Occasionally when they do, they are served, pieces that are ridiculously low.

The essence of eating among the people is mainly to gain weight. The contention is that a well fed child can hardly fall sick. Women with significant fat are considered physically attractive and sexually desirable. The era of snack bars and junk food created more problems of weight gains. With the advent of technology, this belief is giving way to building good body image, which involves working to become slim. People are getting to be more concerned with losing weight. Sometimes this involves the use of unconventional methods.

Concern about body image and losing weight can have adverse consequences some of which include depression from low body esteem, low self worth, poor nutrition from extensive dieting, inadequate calcium and iron intake, under-nutrition; anorexia or bulimia etc. (Edlin, golanty and Brown, 2000). Today there seems to be a change in peoples' eating pattern. Taking diet that is rich in nutritional values in the right proportion is now seriously imbibed. People are becoming increasingly concerned about their body image and problem of overweight. This has led to a compulsive desire to be slim through manipulating eating order and sometimes resorting to physical exercise.

The issue of overweight is concerned about being accumulating excess fat. Body fat is made up of two parts; essential fat for normal physiological functioning and storage fat as depot fat (Edlin, Golanty and Brown, 2000). Essential fat comprises about 10%--12% of body weight in women. However, storage body weight of some people can range between 40%-50% (Edlin et al, 2000). This portends a serious health problem for the people.

Many people whose body weights do not predispose to health problems seem to be weight conscious, primarily for cosmetic reasons. Their goal is to achieve a body size and shape that meets society's standards of perfection. No wonder that many people in Benin community now views any amount of visible fat on their body as irritable, especially in this modern world. …