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J Nerv Ment Dis. 2007 Mar;195(3):196-202.

Eating pathology in East African women: the role of media exposure and globalization.

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  • 1Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders, Department of Psychology, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA. kamryn@bu.edu


Eating disorder (ED) pathology and its relation to media exposure and globalization were assessed in a sample of young Tanzanian females (N = 214; 19.4 years +/- 3.8 years). Participants completed Kiswahili versions of a DSM-IV ED symptom clinical interview, the Eating Disorder Inventory (EDI), and a media exposure/globalization questionnaire. One third endorsed cognitive ED symptoms; bingeing (10%) and purging (5%) were less common. Four women (1.9%) met modified criteria for anorexia nervosa, one for bulimia nervosa, and 10 (4.7%) reported clinically significant ED pathology consistent with an ED not otherwise specified diagnosis. Media exposure and Western exposure (e.g., travel abroad) were positively associated with ED symptoms. The intended factor structure of the EDI was not supported. Eating pathology is present in this developing nation and is most common in subpopulations with increased exposure to Western culture. Future research should replicate these findings to clarify the role of Western media in the development of ED pathology.

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