Eating disorder symptoms in Brazilian university students: a systematic review and meta-analysis


Braz. J. Psychiatry.




Objective: To synthesize the risk of eating disorder (ED) symptoms in Brazilian university students through a systematic review and meta-analysis. Secondary goals were to analyze whether any specific majors were related to higher ED risk and whether any regions of Brazil had higher proportions of college students at risk of ED. Methods: The procedures followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analysis (PRISMA) guidelines, and a search was conducted in three electronic databases (MEDLINE, LILACS, and SciELO). Results: Thirty-three studies were included in the analysis, of which 14 were included in the meta-analysis. All included studies used self-report questionnaires, the most frequent of which was the Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26). None of the studies used a structured interview to diagnose ED. A meta-analysis of studies with a cutoff ≥ 20 for the EAT-26 (n=5) found 14.9% (95%CI 12.8-17.2%) positive screenings, while those with a cutoff of t ≥ 21 (n=9) found 13.3% (95%CI 11.3-15.6%) positive screenings. There was a significantly higher proportion of positive screenings among nutrition majors than all other majors combined (26.5 and 20.5%, respectively). Conclusion: Nutrition students seem to be at higher risk of ED. Further research should investigate whether positive screenings translate to actual ED diagnoses.

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