Background: Eating disorders are a common health problem among adolescents, and females are especially vulnerable to them. There is lack of information on the prevalence of eating disorders in Saudi Arabia. The current study aimed to investigate the prevalence of eating disorders among female undergraduate university students in Taif city, Saudi Arabia.
Methods: The study was undertaken in the female section at Taif university from November 1, 2016 to March 30, 2017. Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26) was used to determine the prevalence of eating disorders. The questionnaire was distributed among undergraduate students and their anthropometric measurements were assessed after obtaining their consent. The sample included 1200 university students with a median age of 21 years (range 17–33). Nonparametric tests were used to assess relationship between variables. Chi-squared test was used to compare items of the disordered eating attitudes and behaviors between positive and negative EAT respondents.
Results: Using the cutoff score of 20 on EAT-26 test, 35.4% of the students were classified at risk for eating disorders. Medical and obese students achieved the highest significant EAT scores.
Conclusion: A high prevalence of eating disorders was found among females at Taif university, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Our findings call for prevention of these disorders and we recommend establishing a national screening program among Saudi university female students for early detection and management of these problems.