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NCJ Number: 201581 Find in a Library
Title: Gender, Race, Childhood Abuse, and Body Image Among Adolescents
Journal: Violence Against Women  Volume:9  Issue:8  Dated:August 2003  Pages:931-954
Author(s): Kim A. Logio
Date Published: August 2003
Page Count: 24
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study examined the influences of race, gender, and sexual or physical abuse on unhealthy eating and dieting habits among Black and White adolescents; the analysis focused on the intersection of race and gender on actual and perceived body size.
Abstract: Data were obtained from an evaluative study of Delaware School Wellness Centers. In the fall of 1992, 1,571 ninth grade and eleventh grade students from 3 schools in New Castle County, DE, were surveyed. The survey instrument included several questions on family relationships and a range of behaviors that pose the greatest threat to health and well-being, including sexual behavior, physical and sexual abuse, mental health, suicide, and disordered eating behaviors. The final available sample consisted of 1,571 students (74 percent of the population and 87 percent of students attending school on the day of the survey). White boys and girls each composed 13 percent of the sample, and Black boys represented the smallest of the four groups at 11 percent of the sample. The other race/ethnicity groups within the sample were not examined because of their small numbers. The final sample was 1,427 Black and White adolescents. The incidence of past abuse measured both physical and sexual abuse of the respondents. Twelve percent of the sample reported either sexual or physical abuse, and 6 percent reported both types of abuse. Six variables measured eating/dieting behaviors. Bivariate analyses were examined with crosstab tables and chi-square tests of significance for categorical variables. Also, dummy variables were created and used in analyses with index and interval variables. The race-gender variable was divided into four dummy variables in order to compare each group with the others. The findings support prior research that shows girls are at greater risk for distorted body images and unhealthy eating and dieting practices. Boys, however, were also at risk of unhealthy weight-control behaviors. Girls, regardless of race, were more likely to engage in disordered eating and dieting behaviors. The influence of past physical and/or sexual abuse, however, was a significant predictor of unhealthy dieting behaviors among Whites, regardless of gender. Although White girls generally faced greater risk for disordered eating and dieting than White boys, the influence of past physical or sexual abuse put White boys in greater danger of developing unhealthy eating and dieting habits. This study thus concludes that adolescent eating and dieting behaviors are connected to body image. Body images are reflective of racial/ethnic differences in appearance preferences and adolescent stresses, such as abuse histories. The influences of race, gender, past abuse, and body image will provide greater insight into the reasons underlying unhealthy eating and dieting practices among adolescents. 8 tables, 3 notes, and 39 references
Main Term(s): Juvenile health services
Index Term(s): Child abuse; Child Sexual Abuse; Ethnic groups; Gender issues; Juvenile self concept; Long term health effects of child abuse
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