Predictors of disordered eating in Caucasian and Latino college students: A comparison across culture and gender
Dennard, E. Eliot
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Eating disorders are often difficult to understand and are complicated by high levels of comorbidity with other psychological disorders. To understand these debilitating disorders, research has evaluated the influence of different predictors on disordered eating. Unfortunately, the majority of studies examining disordered eating behavior have utilized samples of Caucasian women, despite the fact that other groups of individuals also suffer from eating disorders. Latino(a)s, in particular, have been found to have high rates of disordered eating. Males are also afflicted by disordered eating behaviors, although at lower prevalence rates than females. Eating disorders, as they occur in both men and minority groups, are less frequently studied and perhaps more misunderstood. As such, the goal of this study was to further explore different predictors of disordered eating by incorporating different populations of individuals in the study. Four different predictors of disordered eating (i.e., depression, avoidant coping, active coping, and body image disturbance) were examined in four different groups of individuals (i.e., Caucasian women, Caucasian men, Latino men, and Latina women). In addition, these variables were compared between the four groups of participants. Finally, for the Latino(a) participants, the effect of acculturation on disordered eating was examined, as previous research has found acculturation to be an important variable to consider among Latino(a) participants. Data was analyzed primarily by using multiple linear regression and multivariate analysis of variance. For Latina females, acculturation was negatively related to disordered eating, and for Latino males, there was no significant relationship. The overall prediction model was significant. However, gender and body image disturbance were the only individual variables that accounted for a significant proportion of variance in disordered eating scores. The predictors as a set (i.e., depression, active coping, avoidant coping, and body image disturbance) fit better for Caucasian females than for Latino males or Caucasian males. Finally, females were found to have higher levels of disordered eating, depression, and body image disturbance than males. Overall, it appears that gender had a more significant effect on the variables in the study than ethnicity did.