Drive for thinness in black and white preadolescent girls



This study examined racial differences in drive for thinness, a motivational variable implicated in the etiology of eating disorders. Subjects included 613 black and white preadolescent girls from one of three National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Growth and Health Study centers. Instruments included the Drive for Thinness Scale, a Criticism about Weight scale, the Self-Perception Profile for Children, a Sexual Maturation index, and 3-day food diaries. Black girls reported significantly greater drive for thinness than white girls. Drive for thinness was significantly associated with adiposity in both groups; additional predictors included criticism about weight for black girls and dissatisfaction with physical appearance for white girls. Correlations between drive for thinness and nutrient intakes were not significant. The finding of a greater drive for thinness among young black girls is provocative, given the higher prevalence of obesity and the lower prevalence of anorexia nervosa among black women. Longitudinal follow-up will examine the significance of drive for thinness in the development of weight and eating disorders in this cohort. © 1995 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.