• adolescents;
  • cross-cultural comparison;
  • drive for thinness;
  • eating attitude;
  • eating disorders

Aims:  Sociocultural factors are thought to be important in the pathogenesis of eating disorders. However, there have been few studies comparing eating behavior among various cultural populations. The aim of the present study is to compare attitudes towards bodyweight and shape, and desire for thinness in Japanese male and female subjects with those in people from other countries and of different ethnic origin.

Methods:  The subjects were 411 Japanese, 130 Indian, 135 Omani, 113 Euro-American and 196 Filipino adolescents. The Eating Attitude Test-26 and the Drive for Thinness subscale of the Eating Disorder Inventory-2 were used to assess eating attitudes and fat phobia.

Results:  Subjects from India, Oman and the Philippines demonstrated eating attitudes that were similar to or worse than subjects from Western countries and Japan, although their desire for thinness was not as strong. The relationship between body mass index and eating attitudes or fat phobia in Indian, Omani and Filipino subjects differed from that in subjects from Western countries and Japan. In addition, both males and females showed disturbed eating attitudes in the Indian, Omani, and Filipino subjects.

Conclusion:  There are differences in eating attitudes and the drive for thinness among different cultural groups.