Crossing paths: Pinpointing when rates of binge eating converge across races

Oct 25, 2009

Existing research shows that rates of binge eating among adult women is virtually identical across race. However, among college age women, it's a different story: Caucasian women are more apt to exhibit binge eating behaviors than African American women, according to a study presented at this month's annual scientific meeting of the Obesity Society.

"We are trying to figure out when the diet trajectory changes, and when it is that African-Americans start to exhibit these behaviors. It's important to look at the eating habits of this group as they may contribute to early onset and obesity," said Melissa Napolitano, clinical psychologist at the Center for Obesity Research and Education and associate professor of kinesiology in the College of Health Professions.

In the study, 715 female college students completed an on-line survey about health habits, behaviors and attitudes. Each woman self-reported her height and weight. Answers were then compared to the Eating Disorder Diagnostic Scale, a questionnaire that is used to diagnose a variety of eating disorders, and the Scale, to gauge the severity of binge eating symptoms.

Binge Eating Disorder is classified by eating amounts of food larger than most people would consider normal within a 2-hour period; a sense of loss of control during these eating periods; eating past the point of feeling comfortably full; and feelings of embarrassment, , or guilt after eating.

Overall, the African-American students were less likely than the Caucasian students to meet criteria for binge eating and had less severe symptoms. However, researchers found that the predictors of binge eating symptom severity were similar, including depressed mood, and the perception of feeling fat.

The researchers say it is possible that culture plays a role in the diagnosis and that consuming larger portions may not be labeled as such by African Americans.

"These women could be binge eating, but they may have less anxiety and distress surrounding their eating habits, so they don't recognize it as an issue," said Napolitano, adding that more studies are needed to look at differences in eating patterns and behaviors among different cultures.

About 31-33 percent of college students are overweight, and weight gain has been shown to increase during their academic career. In this study 22 percent of Caucasians and 37 percent of African-Americans were overweight or obese. Existing research suggests that binge eating could be a factor in weight gain over time.

Coupled with the fact that rates of obesity are especially high among African American females, Napolitano says it's critical to have tailored treatments and educational programs available for women of diverse backgrounds.

"College age women are at a critical stage in their development, and there's almost no research that looks at binge eating behaviors among African American . We need to do a better job at understanding these eating practices to help design and evaluate both prevention and treatment efforts," she said.

Source: Temple University (news : web)

Explore further: Low Vitamin D may not be a culprit in menopause symptoms

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Starting university may be hazardous to your health: study

Oct 04, 2007

Moving away from home and adapting to a new social environment are just two of the many challenges that new students face as they enter university. An innovative new study conducted at the University of Alberta has found ...

Professor identifies new eating disorder

Sep 04, 2007

A University of Iowa professor is making a case for a new eating disorder she calls purging disorder. The disorder is similar to bulimia nervosa in that both syndromes involve eating, then trying to compensate for the calories. ...

Recommended for you

Low Vitamin D may not be a culprit in menopause symptoms

4 hours ago

A new study from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) shows no significant connection between vitamin D levels and menopause symptoms. The study was published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopa ...

Internists favor public policy to reduce gun violence

10 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Most internists believe that firearm-related violence is a public health issue and favor policy initiatives aimed at reducing it, according to research published online April 10 in the Annals of ...

iPLEDGE isotretinoin counseling may need updating

11 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The iPLEDGE program needs to provide women with information about more contraceptive choices, including reversible contraceptives, according to research published in the April issue of JAMA De ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Low Vitamin D may not be a culprit in menopause symptoms

A new study from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) shows no significant connection between vitamin D levels and menopause symptoms. The study was published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopa ...

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

(Phys.org) —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

Tech giants look to skies to spread Internet

The shortest path to the Internet for some remote corners of the world may be through the skies. That is the message from US tech giants seeking to spread the online gospel to hard-to-reach regions.

Wireless industry makes anti-theft commitment

A trade group for wireless providers said Tuesday that the biggest mobile device manufacturers and carriers will soon put anti-theft tools on the gadgets to try to deter rampant smartphone theft.