Black college students more satisfied with their bodies than white students

Black college students tend to be more satisfied with their bodies and desire a larger body size, on average, than white students.

That’s one conclusion from a study of 76 male and female students at a Midwest university.

“In addition, blacks tended to desire the body size they considered healthy while whites wanted a body size smaller than they thought healthy,” says Mara S. Aruguete, professor of psychology at Stephens College, a women’s college, in Columbia, MO.

“This might indicate that health-focused treatments could be relatively ineffective for white patients with eating disorders,” she notes.

Aruguete and co-researchers Lynette Nickelberry of Stephens College and Alayne Yates of the University of Hawaii, asked 76 male and female students at an historically black Midwest university to complete questionnaires on demographics, eating attitudes, body shapes, how they viewed their own bodies, and adherence to black cultural norms. Two-thirds of the students surveyed were black and the remainder white.

Their results are published in the autumn 2004 issue of the North American Journal of Psychology.

They also found that black men and women were less likely to diet than were white women. But that didn’t mean that blacks were immune from eating disorders.

One of the hypotheses of the study had been that there would be a negative relationship between adherence to black cultural norms and eating disorders. This, however, was not the case.

“Surprisingly we found that black men showed a propensity toward bulimia similar to white women, with both groups having higher scores on that scale than white men or black women,” says Aruguete.

“Although only six participants scored in the pathological range for eating disorders, two were black men and four were white women.”

There is some other research, she says, that shows that black adolescent males are more likely than white teen males to report eating disorders accurately.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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