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Body Self-Perception, Dietary Self-Efficacy, and Body Mass Index in Young Adults: A Cross-Sectional Survey.

BACKGROUND: Body self-perception and dietary self-efficacy may represent an important factor in the prevention of excess body weight.

PURPOSE: This study evaluated body self-perception, dietary self-efficacy, and body mass index (BMI) in the Peruvian population.

METHODS: A cross-sectional online survey was administered to 190 men and 210 women. Each participant was shown 9 Stunkard anatomical silhouettes corresponding to BMI values. The results obtained were classified as underweight, normal weight, overweight, and obese. The Dieting Self-Efficacy Scale (DIET-SE) was also applied. Chi-square statistic, Kruskal-Wallis, Student t -test, and ANOVA were used to explore differences in means and proportions.

RESULTS: Age was significantly higher in those who underestimated their weight and who were dissatisfied with their body (p = 0.000). BMI was higher in men, most were dissatisfied with their body (p<0.05), and were more likely to underestimate their weight compared to women (p = 0.000). Those participants who were dissatisfied with their body and who underestimated their weight were more likely to have an elevated BMI compared to those who were satisfied and who did not underestimate their weight. All participants had low dietary self-efficacy (LDSE), with a little higher proportion in men compared to women (62.6% vs 61.4%). The majority (45.9%) reported little confidence to resist high-calorie food temptations. More than half of the participants reported body dissatisfaction and LDSE, this was more frequent in men compared to women.

CONCLUSION: It is necessary to develop and implement preventive measures to improve self-perception of the body, taking into account factors such as gender, age, and eating habits.

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