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Assessing the prevalence of and factors associated with overweight, obesity, and binge eating as a function of ethnicity



This study aimed to examine the prevalence of and factors associated with overweight, obesity, and binge eating as a function of ethnicity among a national sample of college students.


Data were drawn from the 2010 Healthy Minds Study sample. Participants were 24,396 college students from 26 colleges and universities. This sample included 62 % females and a broad range of ethnic backgrounds; 30 % were overweight, 10 % were obese, and 7 % met criteria the for binge eating.


While African Americans reported the highest prevalence of overweight (49 %) and obesity (24 %), Arab-Americans reported the highest prevalence of binge eating (10 %). The factors associated with weight problems and binge eating differed by ethnicity.


Research is warranted to develop more culturally sensitive interventions to target those ethnic minorities at elevated risk. Further study of binge eating among Arab-Americans is particularly important, as the prevalence of this condition was higher among this group over any other.

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The data collection for the 2010 Healthy Minds Study (HMS) was supported by the University of Michigan Depression Center, the Penn State Children, Youth, and Families Consortium, and the other universities participating in the HMS study. The authors would like to thank the HMS Principal Investigator, Dr. Daniel Eisenberg, for making the data available for this report. The first author was supported by the Eastern Michigan University Graduate School and the EMU Office of the Provost. The authors would also like to thank the Emerging Scholars Fellowship program, developed by Active Minds with support from the Scattergood Foundation for Behavioral Health, for providing additional support to the first author. A poster based on the findings of this manuscript was presented at The Obesity Society’s 2011 Annual Scientific Meeting.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Summar Reslan.

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Reslan, S., Saules, K.K. Assessing the prevalence of and factors associated with overweight, obesity, and binge eating as a function of ethnicity. Eat Weight Disord 18, 209–219 (2013).

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  • College students
  • Overweight
  • Obesity
  • Binge eating
  • Ethnicity
  • Arab-American