Senior Honors Theses

Publication Date

Spring 4-22-2013

School

College of Arts and Sciences

Primary Subject Area

Black Studies; Psychology, Behavioral; Psychology, Physiological; Psychology, Social

Keywords

African-American, eating disorders, college women, self-esteem, body image

Disciplines

Other Mental and Social Health | Other Psychiatry and Psychology

Abstract

Currently, increasing scholarly attention is being given to eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and binge eating. A bulk of the research on the issue has focused on Caucasian women. As a result, the body of research may be limited in its generalization to other racial and ethnic groups. This study, therefore, sought to study disordered eating among African-American college women. Two models based on research questions were tested. The first focused on how body mass index (BMI) impacted disordered eating, while the second focused on how the difference between perceived actual and ideal body image impacted disordered eating. Self-esteem was tested as a mediating factor for both models. Data were collected from a total sample of 21 African-American women from a large, private university on the east coast. Findings suggested that African-American college women had high self-esteem and a perceived actual and ideal body image that were similar. Results also demonstrated a low prevalence of eating disorders among this population, even though more than half of participants demonstrated a potential risk for developing an eating disorder. These findings have implications for counseling and student care centers by shedding light on typical attitudes about body image within this demographic and the eating behaviors that follow as a result.

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