Acculturation and body image perception among Latino youth

Ethn Health. 2007 Jan;12(1):21-41. doi: 10.1080/13557850600824294.


Objectives: Examine the prevalence and predictors of body image dissatisfaction and disordered eating among Latino youth.

Design: One hundred and sixty-seven Latino youth were surveyed as part of a tailored nutrition communication intervention. The youth's mean age was 12.81 years (SD = 2.74) and 54% were female. Mean self-rated health was 2.59 (SD = 1.02; range: 1 = good to 5 = poor), despite 70% reporting a desire to be thinner. Using age and gender-specific growth charts, 16% of the youth were classified as at risk for overweight and 34% were classified as overweight.

Results: Among adolescents, girls (p < or = 0.001), youth who were classified as at risk for or being overweight (p < or = 0.001), and who more strongly recognized and agreed with socially sanctioned standards of appearance as represented in the media (Standardized beta St. beta = 1.86, p < or = 0.001) were more dissatisfied with their body image (R(2) = 0.57). Among children, being at risk for or overweight (p < or = 0.001), reporting a stronger affiliation with the Mexican culture (St. beta = 0.84, p < or = 0.01) and stronger expectations that a healthy diet was associated with improved appearance (St. beta = 0.63, p < or = 0.05) predicted greater body image dissatisfaction (R(2) = 0.55).

Conclusion: Interventions that address sociocultural attitudes toward appearance may be effective at reducing both the prevalence of body image dissatisfaction and disordered eating.

MeSH terms

  • Acculturation*
  • Adolescent
  • Body Image*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Diet / ethnology
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / ethnology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mexican Americans / psychology*