Eating disturbances in white and minority female dieters




This study examined disordered eating, attitudes about weight and appearance, self-esteem, weight loss, and reasons for weight regain in a sample of white, black, Asian, and Hispanic female dieters.


In this cross-sectional descriptive study, we scrutinized survey responses of a large number of households subscribing to Consumer Reports magazine. Females (N = 9,971) between 21 and 65 years old (M = 42.9, SD =10.4) with a mean body mass index (BMI) of 27.2 (SD = 6.2) were selected for comparisons.


Ethnic groups were different in terms of age, BMI, household income, and marital status. Therefore, these variables were used as covariates in the analyses. More black women were overweight and purged compared to the other groups. Asian women valued the beneficial role of exercise in weight control more, while black women were more inclined to attribute weight gain to cravings and slow metabolism. The groups did not differ in terms of binge eating, attitudes about weight and appearance, self-esteem, the number of attempts to lose weight, and the reasons for their failures.


This study suggests that unhealthy eating attitudes and practices may be similar for women who diet, irrespective of ethnic background. However, the generalizability of these findings is limited by the inherent sampling bias. © 1998 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 24: 395–403, 1998.