Behavioral symptoms of eating disorders in Native Americans: results from the ADD Health Survey Wave III

Int J Eat Disord. 2011 Sep;44(6):561-6. doi: 10.1002/eat.20894. Epub 2011 Jan 7.


Objective: To examine prevalence and correlates (gender, Body Mass Index) of disordered eating in American Indian/Native American (AI/NA) and white young adults.

Method: We examined data from the 10,334 participants (mean age 21.93 years, SD = 1.8) of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (ADD Health) Wave III for gender differences among AI/NA participants (236 women, 253 men) and ethnic group differences on measures of eating pathology.

Results: Among AI/NA groups, women were significantly more likely than men to report loss of control and embarrassment due to overeating. In gender-stratified analyses, a significantly higher prevalence of AI/NA women reported disordered eating behaviors compared with white women; there were no between group differences in prevalence for breakfast skipping or having been diagnosed with an eating disorder. Among men, disordered eating behaviors were uncommon and no comparison was statistically significant.

Discussion: Our study offers a first glimpse into the problem of eating pathology among AI/NA individuals. Gender differences among AI/NA participants are similar to results reported in white samples. That AI/NA women were as likely as white women to have been diagnosed with an eating disorder is striking in light of well documented under-utilization of mental health care among AI/NA individuals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Body Mass Index
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / ethnology*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Hyperphagia / ethnology*
  • Hyperphagia / psychology
  • Indians, North American / psychology*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Factors
  • Young Adult