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Keywords:

  • ethnicity;
  • symptom presentation;
  • distress;
  • eating disorder;
  • referral;
  • help-seeking;
  • screening

Abstract

Objective:

This study investigated ethnic differences in the frequency of eating disorder symptoms and related distress in a U.S. college-based eating disorders screening program.

Method:

Responses to self-report questions and counselors' assessment were analyzed in an ethnically diverse sample (n = 5,435).

Results:

The frequency of binge-eating, restrictive eating, vomiting, and amenorrhea did not differ significantly across ethnic groups. However, significant between-group differences were found with respect to modes of purging. Binge correlates (e.g., eating until uncomfortably full) were significantly more frequent among Caucasian than African American participants (p < .001). Binge eating was the best predictor of distress among Caucasians, African Americans, and Latinos, whereas vomiting was the best predictor of distress among Asians. Asian participants who used laxatives were significantly less likely to receive a recommendation for further evaluation than non-Asian participants.

Conclusion:

Ethnic diversity in symp tom prevalence and related distress was identified. Clinician recognition of this potential diversity may enhance culturally competent care for eating disorders. © 2006 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Int J Eat Disord 2006