Ethnic differences in eating disorder symptoms among college students: The confounding role of body mass index

Cecilia A. Arriaza, Traci Mann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations

Abstract

Eating disorders are among the most common psychopathologies on college campuses. Research on ethnic differences in eating disorder symptoms and prevalence has resulted in conflicting conclusions. Some studies find that particular ethnic groups have a higher prevalence of a symptom; others find that members of that ethnic group have a lower prevalence of the same symptom. The authors explored the role of body mass index (BMI), one potential confound. They used a reliable measure of eating disorder symptoms to assess differences between Hispanic, Asian, and non-Hispanic White college women from two separate samples. After controlling for BMI, ethnic differences in eating disorder symptoms of concern about weight and shape disappeared, but differences in restrained eating remained. Inconsistent findings in the ethnic-difference literature on eating disorders may result from systematic group differences in BMI. Implications for college health programs, counseling, and case finding are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-315
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American College Health Association
Volume49
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2001
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Body mass index
  • Eating disorders
  • Ethnicity

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