Disordered eating among African American girls
Flowers, Kelci Cornelia
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Despite lore that eating disorders do not affect underrepresented ethnic groups (e.g., Smolak & Striegel-Moore, 2001), epidemiological data suggests that African American girls are vulnerable to eating disorder pathology (e.g., Swanson et al., 2011). Growing evidence suggests that racial discrimination may be a predictor of maladaptive eating behaviors among African American women (e.g., Brodish et al., 2011). However, no known study to date has examined the association between racism and eating disorder pathology among African American girls, or tested a model to explain this association. The present study investigated the relations between experiences with racial discrimination, depressive symptoms, and eating behaviors among African American adolescent girls, as well as the potential buffering role of spiritual well-being. Participants (n = 249, Mage = 16.13 years) completed measures of racial discrimination, eating disorder pathology, depressive symptoms, and spiritual well-being. Results indicated that girls who reported experiences with racial discrimination may be more likely to endorse bulimic and binge-eating pathology than those who denied similar experiences. However, this association was not influenced by depressive symptoms or spiritual well-being. Results are discussed in terms of the risk and protective factors that may be associated with the development and maintenance of eating pathology among African American adolescent girls.