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Multiculturalism and Social Work | San Francisco State University

Body image, eating attitudes, and eating behaviors among Chinese, Chinese-American and non-Hispanic White women.

Author: Pan, Amy Shing
Author Background: George Mason U., US
Date 7/2000
Type Dissertation
Journal Title: Dissertation-Abstracts-International:-Section-B:-The-Sciences-and-Engineering
Volume/Pages Vol 61(1-B): 544.
Subject Matter Research, Body-Image; Cross-Cultural Differences; Cultural Assimilation; Eating Attitudes; Eating-Disorders, China, U.S., Chinese, Chinese American, White, Women,
Abstract The prevalence of eating disorders among Asian women is significantly lower than the prevalence among Non-Hispanic White women, which may be the result of protective factors in Asian cultures. This study examined the influence of cultural factors on body image perceptions, eating attitudes, and eating behaviors among Chinese women in China, and Chinese-American and Non-Hispanic White women in the United States. Subjects consisted of 387 women between eighteen and twenty-four years old. It was hypothesized that there would be significant differences between the three groups in body image, eating attitudes and eating behaviors. It was also hypothesized that cultural factors, such as level of acculturation, would affect body image, eating attitudes, and eating behaviors. Distorted body image attitudes and disordered eating attitudes were hypothesized to be positively correlated with disordered eating behaviors. Significant group differences were found in body image satisfaction in an unexpected direction: the Chinese group reported being less satisfied with their bodies than Chinese-American and Non-Hispanic White groups. However, Chinese groups reported significantly lower rates of disordered eating behaviors. Acculturation was not significantly correlated with body image attitudes, eating attitudes, or eating behaviors in the Chinese-American group. Body image dissatisfaction was positively correlated with disordered eating attitudes and behaviors for all groups. However, in the Non-Hispanic White group, investment in appearance and physical fitness was also positively correlated to disordered eating attitudes and behaviors. Exploratory multiple regression analyses indicate that BMI was not a significant predictor of body image satisfaction or dissatisfaction for any of the groups, which suggests that differences between groups on measures of body image attitudes probably were not significantly affected by differences in their mean BMIs and may reflect differences shaped by cultural or social factors. The findings from this study provide support for the sociocultural model of eating disorders by indicating that cultural factors are related to body image attitudes, eating attitudes, and eating behaviors. This study extends current knowledge by indicating that there are factors in Chinese culture that protect women from developing disordered eating behaviors and that some of these protective factors remain even after women become acculturated to Western culture. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2000 APA, all rights reserved)