Disordered eating and body image in Chinese and Caucasian students in the United States

Lauren E. Baillie, Louisiana State University, Department of Psychology, Baton Rouge, LA 70806, USA. lebaillie@gmail.com
Amy L. Copeland


OBJECTIVE: This study evaluated the roles of exposure to Western culture and language choice and gender differences in disordered eating symptoms in Chinese and Caucasian students. METHOD: 796 Caucasian and 194 Chinese students completed measures of eating disorder symptoms, body image, and body esteem. Participants chose their survey language (English or Chinese). RESULTS: Caucasian women had higher levels of body dissatisfaction than Chinese women. Women of both ethnicities reported more disordered eating symptoms and body dissatisfaction than men; these differences were smaller for the Chinese group. Differences emerged on certain dimensions of body esteem between Chinese women who responded in Chinese and those who responded in English. CONCLUSIONS: There were few differences between ethnicities, suggesting that mechanisms other than Western culture play a role. Cultural variables may account for the degree of intra-ethnic gender differences. Individuals who complete studies in their native language may differ from their English-responding counterparts in areas of body esteem.