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Eat Weight Disord. 2003 Mar;8(1):20-5.

Racial/ethnic differences in weight concerns: protective and risk factors for the development of eating disorders and obesity among adolescent females.

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  • 1Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70808, USA.



This study compared African American and Caucasian adolescent girls on measures of appearance concerns, body-contingent self-esteem, pressures for thinness, and dieting behaviour. Also, correlations among these measures were contrasted across the two ethnic groups.


African American (n = 32) and Caucasian (n = 29) adolescent girls completed a series of self-report measures concerning dieting behaviour, perceived pressures for thinness, self-esteem, and perceptions of physical appearance.


Across all measures, Caucasian girls endorsed more disturbed eating behaviors and beliefs about body shape and weight. Dieting among Caucasian girls was correlated with preoccupation with body shape. Among African American girls dieting behaviour was unrelated to concerns about body shape.


These findings support the hypothesis that in comparison to Caucasian girls, African American girls may be at lessened risk for developing eating disorders but may be at greater risk for developing obesity. This conclusion is based upon the findings of higher levels of eating disorder symptoms among Caucasian girls and the relative absence of significant correlations between dieting and body shape and appearance concerns among African American girls.

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