Eating disorders are becoming more prevalent among various cultures
as you will see from the following articles. I am sure you will find
some interesting answers to your questions in the material. Since your
are hoping to use this information for a research paper, I felt it
might be best if you read through each article and synthesized the
results from each study to formulate your own conclusions.
While there are numerous research articles pertaining to the issue of
eating disorders among cultures, the following references should
provide a good start!
"Culture and Eating Disorders," by Merry N. Miller, M.D., and Andrés
Pumariega, M.D. Psychiatric Times Vol. XVI Issue 2 (February 1999)
Conclusion: "Anorexia nervosa has been described as a possible
"culture-bound syndrome," with roots in Western cultural values and
conflicts (Prince, 1983). Eating disorders may, in fact, be more
prevalent within various cultural groups than previously recognized,
as such Western values are becoming more widely accepted. Historical
and cross-cultural experiences suggest that cultural change, itself,
may be associated with increased vulnerability to eating disorders,
especially when values about physical aesthetics are involved. Such
change may occur across time within a given society, or on an
individual level, as when an immigrant moves into a new culture. In
addition, cultural factors such as affluence and freedom of choice for
women may play a role in the development of these disorders (Bemporad,
1997). Further research of the cultural factors influencing the
development of eating disorders is needed."
"Cultural background of Eating Disorders." (Dec 2002)
(This is a very general overview)
"Many transcultural anthropology and psychiatry studies have shown
that eating disorders are pathologies with a very important cultural
factor. They develop in countries where the prevailing culture
emphasizes slimness as a desirable, socially important value."
"It is no accident that today eating disorders are an epidemic
emergency in Western industrialised countries where 4-5 percent of
girls between 15 and 35 suffer from them, while the situation is
practically unknown in China, the Indian subcontinent, Africa,
Oceania, and in many Arab States."
"However, a girl who has been brought up in one of these continents
but moves for various reasons, such as study or work, to a country
with a high percentage of eating disorders, a country where the media
discuss the body, body fitness, slimness and diets, in a year or two,
could risk developing an eating disorder just like girls who have
always lived in this type of culture."
"9. CULTURAL PRESENTATIONS OF ANOREXIA NERVOSA"
Highlights some statistics between Blacks and Hispanics in the United States.
From the book, "The Eating Disorders : Medical and Psychological Bases
of Diagnosis and Treatment." Second Edition - Complete text and newly
added content. Edited by Barton J. Blinder, Barry F. Chaitin, Renee S.
"Eating Disorders in Women of Color: Explanations and Implications."
National Eating Disorders Association (2002)
Background: "Over the past few years, there has been increasing
evidence of disordered eating occurring among racial and ethnic
minorities in the United States. Contrary to the persistent belief
that eating disorders affect only young, white women, analysis of the
Minnesota Adolescent Health Study found that dieting was associated
with weight dissatisfaction, perceived overweight, and low body pride
in all ethnic groups (Story et al, 1997)."
"Similarly, a study conducted by Robinson et al (1996), found that
among the leanest 25% of 6th and 7th grade girls, Hispanics and Asians
reported significantly more body dissatisfaction than did white girls.
Lastly, in a survey of 6,504 adolescents, Asian, Black, Hispanic and
Caucasian youth all reported attempting to lose weight at similar
rates (32.7%, 31.9%, 36.1% and 34.9% respectively), while among of
Native American adolescents, 48.1% wereattempting weight loss
(Kilpatrick, Ohannessian, & Bartholomew, 1999)."
"Ethnicity and Body Image: Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis," by
Madaline Altabe. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 23,
Results of the study revealed that "Caucasian and Hispanic-Americans
showed more weight-related body image disturbance than
African-Americans and Asian-Americans. African-Americans had the most
positive general appearance body image. Ethnic groups were generally
similar in their ideal body image traits but some differences occurred
for the valuing of skin color and breast size."
"An Ethnic Comparison of eating attitudes and associated body image
concerns in adolescent South African schoolgirls," by Caradas, A.,
Lambert, E.V. and Charlton, K.E. Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 14,
Conclusion: "These finding suggest that the prevalence of abnormal
eating attitudes is equally common in South African schoolgirls from
different ethnic backgrounds. White girls exhibit greater body image
concerns and body image dissatisfaction than mixed race or black
individuals. **** These findings reinforce the notion that eating
disorders are culture-reactive rather than culture-bound phenomena and
provide insight into the extent of eating-related problems and body
image issues in developing countries." *****
"Tracing Body Image Factors, Western Acculturation, and Disordered
Eating Patterns in South Africa," By Lauren Penney. (2002)
An excerpt from the discussion: "This study supported the hypothesis
that eating disordered behaviors vary with ethnicity. As
hypothesized, white female students showed significantly more fear of
fatness. Fear of fatness is believed to be a predominantly Western
phenomenon. I believe that it stems, in part, from beliefs about
sexuality, health, self-control, and beauty (see Appendix A1 for
"Findings for black female students supported the hypothesis that they
would display more drive for thinness and bulimia; they also scored
higher for body dissatisfaction than their white counterparts. The
increased body dissatisfaction, however, is not consistent with other
studies done in South Africa (M. E. Geach, unpublished Masters thesis,
Rhodes University, 1995; Wassenaar, le Grange, Winship, Lachenicht,
2000). As with fear of fatness, drive for thinness and body
dissatisfaction are believed to be tied to Western beliefs and values.
Due to their attendance at the University, it can be inferred that
the black students in this study have been subjected to a high degree
of Western culture and have attempted to conform to Western ideals."
"Eating disorders: a transcultural perspective," by N. Shuriquie.
Volume 5, Issue 2, 1999, Page 354-360.
An interesting article which includes information concerning Arab and
"Do Body Image and the Prevalence of Eating Disorders Differ Across
Cultures?" by Courtney Carlisle. Vanderbilt University.
"Asian and Pacific Islander Girls." Eating Disorders Information Sheet.
"Perfection as Acculturation: Psychological Correlates of Eating
Problems in Chinese Male and Female Students Living in the United
States," by Davis, C. & Katzman, M.A. International Journal of Eating
Disorders, 25, 65-70. (1999)
Results: "Highly acculturated females reported significantly higher
EDI (Eating Disorder Inventory) total scores, more maturity fears and
a greater sense of ineffectiveness. males who were less acculturated
also reported high ineffectiveness while high male scores on
acculturation were associated with greater perfectionism. Overall,
females reported more body dissatisfaction and drive for thinness, and
respondents with high acculturation reported more perfectionism and
Discussion: "The impact of perfecting oneself or one's body as a means
of acculturating is discussed..."
"Exposure to Westernization and Dieting: A Cross-Cultural Study," by
Gunewardene, A., Huon, G.F., & Zheng, R. International Journal of
Eating Disorders 29, 289-293. (2001)
Results: "Exposure to westernization was found to be a significant
predictor of dieting status. The westernization index remained an
important predictor when BMI and social influences to diet were taken
into account. Interestingly, the Chinese Australian girls dieted the
least, although the Chinese girls living in China perceived more
influence from their peers to diet, despite their lower BMI."
"Effect of Western Culture on Women?s Attitudes to Eating and
Perceptions of Body Shape," by Lake, A.J., Staiger, P.K. & Glowinski,
H. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 27, 83-89. (2000)
Results: "Results showed no difference between the groups in eating
attitudes, but significant differences in body shape perceptions, with
the Australian-born reporting greater dissatisfaction. Hong Kong-born
subjects were separated into two groups based on their level of
"Body Dissatisfaction and Eating Attitudes in Slimming and Fitness
Gyms in London and Lahore: A Cross-Cultural Study," by Mumford, D.B. &
Choudry, I.Y. European Eating Disorders Review, 8, 217-224. (2000)
"The Role of Family Status and Ethnic Group on Body Image and Eating
Behavior," by Ogden, J. & Elder, C. International Journal of Eating
Disorders, 23, 309-315. (1998)
This study provides some interesting findings concerning mothers and
daughters of White and Asian culture.
"A cross-cultural comparison of body dissatisfaction in Estonian and
Australian young adults and its relationship with media exposure," by
Tiggemann, M. & Ruutel, E Journal of Cross Cultural Psychology, 32,
(6), 736-742. (2001)
"The role of ethnicity and culture in the development of eating
disturbance and body dissatisfaction: A meta-analytic review," by
Wildes, J.E., Emery, R.E. & Simons, A.D Clinical Psychology Review,
21, (4), 521-551. (2001)
Provides conclusions from a meta-analysis of 35 studies. Finds that
whites experience greater eating disturbance and body dissatisfaction
than their non-white counterparts. However, other factors must also be
taken into consideration, as mentioned by the study.
I hope this information helps!
Google Search Strategy
eating disorders AND culture
eating disorders AND countries