Research Highlights Disordered Eating in Native Americans

Diagnosis rate equally high among Native American, white women; more common in females

MONDAY, Feb. 7 (HealthDay News) -- As among white populations, disordered eating is more common in female American Indian/Native American (AI/NA) young adults than in males, and AI/NA females tend to be diagnosed at rates similar to white women despite disparities in mental health-related care, according to research published online Jan. 7 in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

Ruth H. Striegel-Moore, Ph.D., of Montana State University in Bozeman, and colleagues studied data from 10,334 participants of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health Wave III (mean age, 21.93 years) to examine the prevalence and correlates of eating disorders among young AI/NA and white adults.

AI/NA women were significantly more likely than men to report embarrassment and loss of control related to overeating. The prevalence of reported disordered eating was higher in AI/NA women than in white women, although there were no differences between the groups for receiving a diagnosis for an eating disorder or for skipping breakfast. Disordered eating was not common among men and there were no between-group comparisons of statistical significance.

"Our study offers a first glimpse into the problem of eating pathology among AI/NA individuals. Gender differences among AI/NA participants are similar to results reported in white samples. That AI/NA women were as likely as white women to have been diagnosed with an eating disorder is striking in light of well documented under-utilization of mental health care among AI/NA individuals," the authors write.

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