Ethnic/racial and socioeconomic differences in dieting behaviors and body image perceptions in adolescents

Int J Eat Disord. 1995 Sep;18(2):173-9. doi: 10.1002/1098-108x(199509)18:2<173::aid-eat2260180210>;2-q.


This study examined differences in perceptions of body weight, dieting, unhealthy eating behaviors, and weight control methods among adolescent males and females of various racial/ethnic and socioeconomic (SES) subgroups. Data were derived from a comprehensive health survey administered to 36,320 students in grades 7 through 12 in Minnesota. Differences among ethnic/racial and SES groups were assessed using multivariate logistic regression controlling for grade and body mass index (BMI). Results showed that unhealthy weight control behaviors are not confined to upper SES white females. Compared to white females, Hispanic females reported greater use of diuretics; Asians reported more binge eating; and blacks reported higher rates of vomiting. Black and American Indian females were more likely to be satisfied with their body. Among males and females, higher SES was associated with greater weight satisfaction and lower rates of pathological weight control behaviors. Findings from this study suggest that future research should focus on the validity of self-reports of dieting and weight control behaviors in different ethnic subgroups.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Body Image*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Diet, Reducing / psychology*
  • Ethnic Groups / psychology*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Socioeconomic Factors*