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Objectives: This study aimed to examine body image perceptions and body image dissatisfaction and their relationship with body mass index (BMI) among medical students in Oman. Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted among students of the College of Medicine and Health Sciences, National University of Science and Technology, Sohar, Oman, between September and December 2019. The data (including self-reported weight and height) were collected through a questionnaire-based survey. Body image perception and satisfaction were assessed using the Stunkard Figure Rating Scale. Results: A total of 351 medical students (response rate: 70.2%) participated in the study with a mean age of 21.6 ± 2.2 years and a mean BMI of 22.7 ± 4.3 kg/m2. Most students were within normal ranges of BMI (63%), 12% were underweight and 25% overweight/obese. Approximately, 66% of students perceived their body image correctly; students at both BMI extremes were more accurate about their body image perceptions. Body image dissatisfaction was high (80%) among the respondents with 73.5% of those dissatisfied desiring to be thinner. The association between self-reported BMI with perceived BMI and body image dissatisfaction was significant (P <0.001). Only 18.2% of students felt ‘attractive’. The association between body image perception and body image dissatisfaction was statistically significant (P <0.05). Conclusion: A high degree of body image dissatisfaction and incorrect body image perceptions exists among medical students. There is an increased desire to be thinner and the majority of this study’s participants feel unattractive. There is a need to foster healthy body image perceptions among students of health sciences as they are the future in healthcare and can influence the health beliefs in our society.
Keywords: Body Image; Body Image Dissatisfaction; Body Mass Index; Medical Students; Oman.
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