Effect of Ethnicity and Geographical Location on Body Weight, Dietary Restraint, and Abnormal Eating Attitudes

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Previous studies have examined the effect of ethnicity on obesity, concerns about shape and weight, and attitudes about eating. We hypothesized that geographical location would also influence these variables, and that students growing up in the northern part of the United States and attending northern colleges would differ from students from the South. To examine this, we studied a random sample of 275 African‐Americans (AA) and 224 white college students in the entering class of two northern colleges (University of Pittsburgh or University of Massachusetts) or two southern colleges (Augusta or Paine College). All subjects were weighed and completed the Revised Restraint Scale and the EAT‐26. AA women were heavier than white women, with no differences due to geographical location. Despite being thinner, white women reported more dietary restraint than AA women. This difference between AA and white women was apparent in both northern and southern college students. In contrast, geographical location was the strongest determinant of bulimic attitudes; both men and women at northern colleges reported higher bulimia scores than those at southern schools. Thus ethnicity appears to be a major determinant of body weight and attitudes about shape and dieting, whereas geographical location appears to exert greater influence on bulimic attitudes. 1993 North American Association for the Study of Obesity (NAASO)

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