Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Nutrition and Hospitality Management

First Advisor

Melinda Valliant

Relational Format



Beginning at an early age, girls realize self-conscious feelings after being confronted with the issue of accepting their changing bodies (Halpem, Udry, Campbell & Suchindran, 1999). In the university setting, young women’s self-perceptions of body- esteem are sensitive to outside influences and peers (Heinberg & Thompson, 1992; Giles, Helme & Krcmar, 2007, Shomaker & Furman, 2007). This study observes the relationship between calculated body compositions and self-perceived body-esteems among female students at the University of Mississippi. Eighty-five female students between the ages of 18 and 23 volunteered to participate in the study. A questionnaire assessed body-esteem levels of the participants and the BOD POD Gold Standard body composition tracking machine measured body fat percentages. Percent body fat ranged from 13.8% to 49.8% with a mean of 27.48% and a standard deviation of 6.37%. Percent body fat negatively correlated with the body esteem subscales Appearance (r = -0.323), Weight {r = -0.528) and Attribution (r = -0.212). Results of this study reveal that there is an inverse relationship between calculated body fat percentages and body-esteems in particular subgroups. The results of this study are consistent with Sarwer, Wadden and Foster (1998) who found the same association, reporting that women’s body dissatisfaction is positively related to percent body fat. Forrest and Stuhldreher (2007) also found the same inverse relationship for body-esteem and body mass indexes. Further research should study the link between self-perceptions and calculated body compositions in different populations and should evaluate whether characteristics other than body composition affect-body esteem levels.



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