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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Eating Behaviors, Weight Bias, and Psychological Functioning in Multi-ethnic Low-income Adolescents

  • Author(s): Najjar, RH
  • Jacob, E
  • Evangelista, L
  • et al.

The purposes of this study were to: 1) Describe the incidence of disordered eating, weight bias, body dissatisfaction, and psychological distress, 2) Examine the relationship between sociodemographic variables (gender, ethnicity, and income) and disordered eating, weight bias, body dissatisfaction, and psychological distress in a sample of low-income adolescents.A cross-sectional study was conducted with 105 adolescents from low-income neighborhoods. Participants completed self-report questionnaires to assess eating behaviors, weight bias, body dissatisfaction, and psychological functioning. Height and weight were measured, and information on household income was collected.The participant's mean age was 16.31 (SD=2.8) years, 66% female, 47% Hispanic, and 46% African American. The mean annual income was $17,018 (SD=11,355). Twenty-eight percent self-reported having some form of disordered eating, and 15% reported an eating disorder. The group with eating disorder reported the highest levels of weight bias (M=93.4, SD=109.6), body dissatisfaction (M=94.6, SD=47.6), and psychological distress (M=1.4, SD=0.97).This study found a high prevalence of eating disorders with eating disorder participants experiencing the highest levels of weight bias and psychological distress. Future studies are needed to identify and evaluate community and school-based interventions to minimize weight bias and disordered eating.Nurses are at the forefront of healthcare and should collaborate with educators, school counselors, administrators, coaches, parents, and students, to address weight bias and disordered eating in schools by implementing school-based curriculum and policies.

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