Samuel T. Belau, Abbie Carter, Douglas Gregory, FACSM. Tennessee Wesleyan University, Athens, TN.

BACKGROUND: Body composition is related to both physical and mental health. Self-esteem plays a significant role in an individual’s psychological well-being. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to analyze the relationship between body composition and self-esteem in female college students. METHODS: Female college students (N=17, 20.1±1.7 years) completed a survey and body composition assessment. Participants completed the Rosenburg Self-Esteem survey, a 10-item questionnaire scored using a 1-4 Likert scale (ranging from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree”). Upon completion of the survey, subject height was measured using a wall-mounted stadiometer. Weight and body fat percentage (BF%) were measured using the Bod Pod. Body Mass Index (BMI) was also calculated. Variables were normally distributed. Pearson correlation was used to analyze the relationship between BF% and BMI, BMI and self-esteem, and BF% and self-esteem. One-way ANOVA was used to assess if there were between group differences in self-esteem score based on BMI classification. RESULTS: There was a positive correlation between BF% and BMI (r=.785, p<.001) and between BF% and self-esteem (r=.495, p=.043). However, the correlation between BMI and self-esteem was not significant (p=.174). There was not a significant difference in self-esteem scores between groups categorized by BMI (p=.330). CONCLUSIONS: Previous research has concluded a negative correlation between body composition and self-esteem; however, a positive correlation between BF% and self-esteem resulted from the current study. This may be due to the small sample size and that 16 of the 17 participants were college athletes at the university, both of which are limitations to this study. Future research should focus on increasing sample size and comparing athletes vs. nonathletes.

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