Bulimic disorders and sociocentric values in north India
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Background: Previous studies have shown low rates of eating disorders in some developing countries. We set out to investigate the prevalence of bulimia in an all-female college population in north India and relate it to sociocentrism of the culture. Methods: A total of 504 students in an all-girls private college in an industrial town in north India completed the Hindi translation of the Bulimia Investigatory Test, Edinburgh (BITE). A random sample of 50 students, irrespective of their scores, were interviewed using the DSM-III-R interview for eating disorders; they were also asked about qualitative aspects of their relationship with the family and their own views of their identity. Results: There was no effect of age, social class, religion or height on the distribution of BITE scores. Three key factors emerged; these were related to the constructs of compulsive activity, impulsivity/sociocentric avoidance and associated attitudinal responses and depressive thinking with features of helplessness and feelings of failure. Acculturation was not related to BITE scores. Virtually all interviewees had sociocentric views of theirselves. Conclusions: Sociocentrism and impulsivity account for a significant amount of the variance. The role of sociocentrism in influencing patterns of eating deserves to be studied further.
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