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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Rejection of the Westernization Model of Eating Disorders

  • Author(s): Wilson, Sandra L.
  • et al.

Current theory in clinical psychology holds that eating disorders (EDs) arise from theWestern ideal of bodily thinness (Keith, 2011, p. 214). If this is true, the growing prevalence ofEDs in non-Western countries likely follows from the expansion of Westernization and theWestern thinness ideal. However, if incorrect, this theory might adversely influence thediagnosis and treatment of non-Western patients with EDs who seek treatment from Westerndoctors. If culture influences the perception or definition of “normal” eating patterns, Westernphysicians might overlook culture-specific symptoms of non-Western patients. Indeed, much ofthe cross-cultural research on this subject compares populations based on only a few diagnostictests for ED symptoms, or studies Western populations from a Western viewpoint. The currentliterature evaluates past research on the validity of the Westernization model for EDs, as well asthe influence of this framework on testing measures.

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