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More Women Said They Wanted to Lose Weight

About 36% of the men (49) and 87% of the women (142) said they wanted to lose weight.

Out of the entire group, about 12% of the men and 4% of the women had a BMI of 25 or higher, which is considered overweight.

Among those who said they wanted to lose weight, "just 5% of the women and 22.5% of the men were actually overweight," says the study.

Other students said they wanted to gain weight or maintain their current weight (87 men and 22 women).

Of the students who wanted to lose weight, men and women both expressed concerns on the overall level of body satisfaction. This was determined by a body parts satisfaction scale, which assessed an individual's feeling toward specific body parts. Both men and women also had concerns with weight and appearance, and time spent exercising.

In other areas, men and women who wanted to lose weight had significant differences:

  • Women reported using more dieting behaviors than men.
  • Women were less satisfied with specific body parts (abdomen, buttocks, hips, and thighs).
  • For women, satisfaction (or lack thereof) with body parts relates to self-esteem more often than it does for men.
  • Women were more dissatisfied with their general muscle tone than men.
  • For men who wanted to lose weight, only one body image variable was significantly related to self-esteem: the size of sex organs.

Kashubeck-West says it has become "more acceptable" for women to exercise.

The majority did not report binge eating. However, about 26% of the men who wanted to lose weight reported binge eating, compared to 29% of the women in the same group.

Researcher's Perspective

The researchers didn't get a chance to talk to the students. Kashubeck-West says that she would want people to know that "there is too much emphasis in our society on how women look."

She suggests physical activity, sports, and exercise as ways to feel better in whatever body you have. Kashubeck-West also says "staying away from fashion magazines" or at least understanding how media images are produced may also help. "There's a lot of airbrushing, a lot of meddling with images," she tells WebMD.

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