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Study Focuses on Eating Disorders in the African American Community

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The National Survey of American Life did a study on over 6 thousand African and Caribbean Black Americans to find out why there were major differences in number of blacks and whites were receiving treatment for anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder. The findings are published in the online version of Psychology Today.

They found that anorexia is rare in African Americans. “In fact, not a single woman in the study met criteria for anorexia in the previous 12 months, and there were no reports at all of anorexia in Caribbean adults,” wrote Dr. Monnica Williams, Ph.D. While the age of onset of anorexia was lower in African Americans (14.9) compared to their white counterparts (18.9), “there were no cases (of anorexia) among African Americans occurring after age 19.” Researchers believe that this may be due to culture differences between the two communities.

Binge eating and bulimia were found in similar rates in both subject groups, and there were no gender differences in teen girls or boys. Weight restrictions for some sports may have something to do with teen boys participating in “disordered eating behaviors during adolescence,” the report says.

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