The prevalence of eating disorders has been increasing in the last 20 years, not only in developed countries, but also in less developed countries such as Turkey. This study was conducted among 610 university students, 338 males and 272 females who are between 17 and 23 years old, in Ankara, the capital of Turkey, to determine eating disorders among the young. The data regarding the eating disorders and self-evaluation were assessed according to the EAT-40 test and the Body Cathexis Scale. The scores received from the eating attitudes test were low among the underweight (18.9 +/- 9.7) and higher among the overweight (21.6 +/- 15.9). Eating disorders risks are more prevalent among females compared to males (P < 0.001). 17.2% of the underweight and 21.2% of the overweight are at higher risk of eating disorders. There was a positive correlation between the eating attitudes test scores and young people's body weight, BMI, mid-upper arm and waist circumferences, while a negative correlation was determined between the body cathexis scores and these variables. The authors believe that educating young people about healthy nutrition and monitoring them through longitudinal research studies will be helpful to prevent eating disorders, which are significant in terms of public health. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.