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Media and Cultural Influences in African-American Girls’ Eating Disorder Risk

DOI: 10.5402/2013/319701

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Objective. To investigate media and cultural influences in eating disorder development in African-American adolescent females. Method. Fifty-seven participants were recruited through churches and community organizations to complete a questionnaire. Results. Mainstream sociocultural identification was associated with more eating disorder behavior in African-American females; cultural ethnic identification was not significantly associated with eating disorder behavior in African-American females, mainstream sociocultural identification, cultural ethnic identification, and body dissatisfaction significantly predicted eating disorder behavior; and cultural ethnic identification was positively correlated with mainstream sociocultural identification. This study provides support for the importance of eating disorder prevention interventions that focus specifically on African-American girls. 1. Introduction The research on eating disorders (EDs) in minorities, specifically African-Americans, is scarce. Even rarer is literature that examines the cultural and media influences of eating pathology in this population, specifically in those from urban areas. There is also little research on African-American middle school and early high school age females. Few studies focus on middle school adolescents [1, 2]. Many of the studies on general EDs and media influences on EDs focus on college students [3, 4]. Some findings suggest that within minority populations, eating disorder (ED) development is considered rare (e.g., [5]). However, recently such findings have come into question [6] and few studies have used solely minority populations in investigating ED risk [4, 5]. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fourth Edition-Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR) describes three types of EDs, anorexia nervosa (AN), bulimia nervosa (BN), and Eating Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (ED-NOS). In AN, individuals refuse to sustain normal body weight;, in BN, individuals binge eat and compensate for binging using inappropriate methods (e.g., self-induced vomiting, excessive exercise), in order to maintain weight, and in ED-NOS, individuals do not meet the complete criteria for an ED but display features of either AN or BN [7]. AN and BN are found to be less common in African-American youth (In their review of the literature, Anthony and Yager [8] stated that various studies), [9]. However, the aforementioned studies did not specifically focus on middle school and early high school age African-American females living in an urban area. Compared with Caucasians, Binge Eating


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