Risk of disordered eating in emerging adulthood: Media, body and weight-related correlates among Hungarian female university students


disordered eating;
body satisfaction
sociocultural attitudes


Background: University years often are accompanied by dramatic lifestyle changes which may result in an elevated risk of disordered eating among females. We examine the associations of disordered eating with body image, weight and media-related variables.

Methods: Hungarian female university students (N = 261, mean age = 22.0 years; SD = 2.2 years) were the study participants using online data collection. The Eating Attitude Test-26 (EAT-26) was used to assess levels of and risk for disordered eating.

Results: Findings indicated 24.1 percent of disordered eating in this sample. Weight and body-related attitudes and behaviors were the strongest correlates. Students with family’s eating disorders, body dissatisfaction, those engaged in sporting and dieting tendencies, and being susceptible to media messages were particularly at risk. Dieting was associated with a higher score on the disordered eating scale among sporting students, internalization of thin and athletic body type from the media could play a role; BMI was a correlate only in oral control.

Conclusions: Our paper highlights the role of body dissatisfaction, sporting and slimming tendencies, sociocultural attitudes toward appearance, and family’s eating pathology in helping understand female university students’ disordered eating. There is a limited role that social media plays in part, due to their possible age-related experiences and skills on how to cope with this pressure.



1 Arnett JJ. Emerging adulthood: A theory of development from the late teens through the twenties. Am Psychol 2000;55:469–80. https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.55.5.469
2 Nelson MC, Story M, Larson NI, Neumark-Sztainer D, Lytle LA. Emerging adulthood and college-aged youth: An overlooked age for weight-related behavior change. Obesity 2008;16(10):2205–11. https://doi.org/10.1038/oby.2008.365
3 Eisenberg D, Nicklett EJ, Roeder K, Kirz NE. Eating disorder symptoms among college students: Prevalence, persistence, correlates, and treatment-seeking. J Am Coll Health 2011;59(8):700–7. https://doi.org/10.1080/07448481.2010.546461
4 Lukács A, Wasilewska M, Sope O, Tavolacci M-P, Varga B, Mandziuk M, Lototska O, Sasvári P, Krytska H, Kiss-Tóth E, Ladner J. Risk of eating disorders in university students: An international study in Hungary, Poland and Ukraine. Int J Adolesc Med Health 2020. https://doi.org/10.1515/ijamh-2019-0164
5 Kiss-Tóth E, Wasilewska M, Sopel O, Mandziuk M, Ladner J, Varga B, Sasva P, Lukács A. Eating disorder in university students: an international multi-institutional study. Eur J Public Health 2018;28(S4):311.
6 Aparicio-Martinez P, Perea-Moreno A-J, Martinez-Jimenez MP, Redel-Macías MD, Pagliari C, Vaquero-Abellan M. Social media, thin-ideal, body dissatisfaction and disordered eating attitudes: An exploratory analysis. Int J Environ Res Public Health 2019;16:4177. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16214177
7 McAndrew AJ, Menna R Perceptions of disordered eating and associated help seeking in young women. Eat Disord 2017;26(2):107-26. https://doi.org/10.1080/10640266.2017.1318624
8 Jaconi C, Abascal L, Taylor CB. Screening for eating disorders and high-risk behavior: Caution. Int J Eat Disord 2004;36(3):280–95. https://doi.org/10.1002/eat.20048
9 Uzun O, Güleç N, Özşahin A, Doruk A, Özdemir B, Çalişkan U. Screening disordered eating attitudes and eating disorders in a sample of Turkish female college students. Compr Psychiatry 2006;47:123– 6. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.comppsych.2005.05.004
10 Al Banna MH, Brazendale K, Khan MSI, Sayeed A, Hasan MT, Kundu S. Association of overweight and obesity with the risk of disordered eating attitudes and behaviors among Bangladeshi university students. Eat Behav 2021;40:101474. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eatbeh.2021.101474
11 Uri RC, Wu Y-K, Baker JH, Munn-Chernoff MA. Eating disorder symptoms in Asian American college students. Eat Behav 2021;40:101458. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eatbeh.2020.101458
12 Edman JL, Yates A, Aruguete MS, Debord KA. Negative emotion and disordered eating among obese college students. Eat Behav 2005;6:308–17. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eatbeh.2005.05.004
13 Sahlan RN, Taravatrooy F, Quick V, Mond JM. Eating-disordered behavior among male and female college students in Iran. Eat Behav 2020;37:101378. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eatbeh.2020.101378
14 Rouzitalab T, Gargari BP, Izadi A, Amirsasan R, Azarmanesh D, Jafarabadis MA. The prevalence of disordered eating attitude and its relation to exercise participation in a sample of physical education students. Progr Nutr. 2019;21(S1):281-7. https://doi.org/10.23751/pn.v21i1-S.6129
15 Keel PK, Heatherton TF, Harnden JL, Hornig CD. Mothers, fathers, and daughters: Dieting and disordered eating. Eat Disord 1997;5(3):216-28. https://doi.org/10.1080/10640269708249227
16 Boswell RG, Lydecker JA. Double trouble? Associations of parental substance use and eating behaviors with pediatric disordered eating. Addict Behav 2021;123:107089. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2021.107089
17 Brown SL, Schiraldo GR, Wrobleski PP. Association of eating behaviors and obesity with psychosocial and familial influences. Am J Health Educ 2009;40(2):80–9. https://doi.org/10.1080/19325037.2009.10599082
18 Sonneville KR, Calzo JP, Horton NJ, Haines J, Austin SB, Field AE. Body satisfaction, weight gain, and binge eating among overweight adolescent girls. Int J Obes 2012;36:944–9. https://doi.org/10.1038/ijo.2012.68
19 Pedersen L, Hicks RE, Rosenrauch S. Sociocultural pressure as a mediator of eating disorder symptoms in a non-clinical Australian sample. Cogent Psychology 2018;5:1523347. https://doi.org/10.1080/23311908.2018.1523347
20 Izydorczyk B, Sitnik-Warchulska K. Sociocultural appearance standards and risk factors for eating disorders in adolescents and women of various ages. Front Psychol 2018;9:429. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00429
21 Holland G, Tiggemann M. A systematic review of the impact of the use of social networking sites on body image and disordered eating outcome. Body Image 2016;17:100–10. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2016.02.008
22 Ioannidis K, Taylor C, Holt L, Brown K, Lochner C, Fineberg NA, Corazza O, Chamberlain SR, Roman-Urrestarazu A, Czabanowska K. Problematic usage of the internet and eating disorder and related psychopathology: A multifaceted, systematic review and meta-analysis. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 2021;125:569–81. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2021.03.005
23 Pengpid S, Peltzer K. Risk of disordered eating attitudes and its relation to mental health among university students in ASEAN. Eat Weight Disord 2018;23(3):349–55. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40519-018-0507-0
24 Panea-Pizarro I, López-Espuela F, Martos-Sánchez A, Domínguez-Martín AT, Beato-Fernández L, Moran-García JM. Internet addiction and Facebook addiction in Spanish women with eating disorders. Arch Psychiatr Nurs 2020;34:442–8. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apnu.2020.07.023
25 Wilksch SM, O’Shea A, Ho P, Byrne S, Wade TD. The relationship between social media use and disordered eating in young adolescents. Int J Eat Disord 2020;53(1):96–106. https://doi.org/10.1002/eat.23198
26 Túry F, Szabó P, Szendrey G. Prevalence of eating disorders in college student population. Clin Neurosci 1990;43:409–18. Hungarian
27 Garner DM, Olmsted MP, Bohr Y Garfinkel PE. The Eating Attitudes Test: Psychometric features and clinical correlates. Psychol Med 1982;12(4):871–8. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0033291700049163
28 Béres A, Czeglédi E Babusa B. Examination of exercise dependence and body image in female fitness exercisers. J Ment Health Psychosom 2013;14:91–114. https://doi.org/10.1556/Mental.14.2013.2.1 Hungarian
29 Tylka TL, Wood-Barcalow NL. The body appreciation scale-2: Item refinement and psychometric evaluation. Body Image 2015;12:53–67. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2014.09.006
30 Czeglédi E, Pál E, Bartha E. Hungarian adaptation of the sociocultural Attitudes Towards Appearance Questionnaire¬ – 3. J Ment Health Psychosom 2015;16(3):209–30. https://doi.org/10.1556/0406.16.2015.001 Hungarian
31 Thompson JK, van den Berg P, Roehrig M, Guarda AS, Heinberg LJ. TheSociocultural Attitudes Towards Appearance Scale-3 (SATAQ-3): Development and validation. Int J Eat Disord 2004;35(3):293–304. https://doi.org/10.1002/eat.10257
32 Bányai F, Zsila Á, Király O, Maraz A, Elekes Z, Griffiths MD, Andreassen CS, Demetrovics Z. Problematic social media use: Results from a large-scale nationally representative adolescent sample. PLoS ONE 2017;12:e0169839. https://doi.org/doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0169839
33 Andreassen CS, Pallesen S, Griffiths MD. The relationship between addictive use of social media, narcissism, and self-esteem: Findings from a large national survey. Addict Behav 2017;64:287–93. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2016.03.006
34 Thaiposri N, Reece J. Gender differences in eating disorder-related intrusive thoughts. Eat Disord 2020. https://doi.org/10.1080/10640266.2020.1789830
35 Juarascio AS, Perone J, Timko CA. Moderators of the relationship between body image dissatisfaction and disordered eating. Eat Disord 2011;19(4):346-54. https://doi.org/10.1080/10640266.2011.584811