Abnormal eating attitudes and behaviours and perceived parental control: a study of white British and British-Asian school girls
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- Furnham, A. & Adam-Saib, S. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol (2001) 36: 462. doi:10.1007/s001270170025
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Background: Previous studies have found significantly higher scores on the Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26) which measures eating disorders among second-generation British-Asian schoolgirls in comparison to their White counterparts. Further, high EAT-26 scores (an indication of unhealthy eating attitudes and behaviours) are positively associated with parental overprotection scores on the Parental Bonding Instrument (PBI). This study aimed to replicate and extend previous findings, comparing British-Asian schoolgirls to White schoolgirls and consider ‘intra-Asian’ differences on the same measures, including factor scores. Methods: Participants completed three questionnaires: EAT-26, PBI and BSS (Body Satisfaction Scale). There were 168 participants: 46 White, 40 Indian, 44 Pakistani and 38 Bengali. Results: Previous findings were supported; the Asian scores were significantly higher than the White scores on the EAT-26 and PBI, but not the BSS. The Bengali sample had significantly higher EAT-26 total and 'oral control' scores than the other groups. There were no intra-Asian differences for the overprotection scores. PBI scores were not associated with EAT-26 scores. The BSS score was the only significant predictor of EAT scores, when entered into a regression along with PBI scores and the body mass index. Conclusion: Results demonstrated sociocultural factors in the development of eating disorders. The results suggest that there are important psychological differences between second-generation migrants from different countries on the Indian subcontinent. In line with previous studies, significant differences were found between the four ethnic groups, parenting styles, but these did not relate to actual eating disorders.